ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – A Florida couple has filed a lawsuit in Vermont over an artificial insemination procedure done in 1977.
Cheryl and Peter Rousseau’s daughter Barbara was conceived through that process. She is now 41 years old.
According to the lawsuit against Dr. John Coates, Barbara took a DNA test to learn about her medical genetic history back in October.
That’s when she says she discovered some shocking news: The doctor who performed the procedure for her parents actually used his own genetic material instead of a donor’s.
Their attorney, Jerry O’Neil, says it couldn’t have been a mistake.
„It was completely news to them. They had no expectation that this would turn up when their daughter did the research with respect to it,” O’Neil said.
The O’Neils did not want to talk about what happened, referring CBS 17 sister station WFLA to their attorney.
The couple married in 1974 and wanted to have a child together, but Peter Rousseau had undergone a vasectomy. So, they agreed on artificial insemination and chose an unnamed medical student as a donor.
The attorney claims Coates not only used his own genetic material, but also maintained a professional relationship with the couple. The attorney says the doctor even made it a point to be close during the pregnancy, and delivered the child himself.
„It’s fraud and it’s a question of inserting genetic material in a woman – not of an anonymous donor, but rather the physician who is engaging in the conduct itself,“ he said.
DNA expert Drew Smith says because of this case and others like it, DNA technology now shows the expectation of privacy is essentially evaporating.
“If you are a donor – whether legitimately or not – a sperm donor, an egg donor or you gave up a child for adoption, there’s no longer any reasonable expectation of anonymity.”
The couple is also suing the Central Vermont Medical Center.