Doctor Daddy Fraudsters
August 23, 2019
“Fraud is the daughter of greed.” – Jonathan Gash
Who’s Your Daddy? No, Seriously.
Users of consumer DNA test kits are warned to be prepared for unexpected results. Yet seldom does a consumer expect that the sperm donor their mother used at the fertility clinic was actually the doctor performing the procedure.
Decades-old instances of fertility specialists secretly using their own sperm for artificial insemination are beginning to surface with some regularity. Three states have now passed laws criminalizing this conduct: Texas, California, and Indiana. The Texas law says health care workers found using sperm, eggs, or embryos from unauthorized donors face charges of sexual assault, and those found guilty must register as sex offenders.
An Indiana University law professor is following more than 20 cases that have occurred in a dozen US states, as well as England, South Africa, Germany and the Netherlands. One Dutch fertility specialist was confirmed to have fathered 56 children by women who visited his clinic outside Rotterdam.
In 2018 The New York Times reported that a fertility specialist in Indianapolis had fathered 61 children during the 1970s and 1980s. Sometimes the doctor told the women he was using their husband’s sperm, but used his own instead. The doctor only had to surrender his medical license and receive a one year suspended sentence, as there wasn’t a state law in 2009 prohibiting his conduct.
This year Indiana passed legislation making the use of the wrong sperm a felony, and extending the statute of limitations to allow patients to being legal action once the wrongdoing is discovered, rather than when it occurred. Cases of fertility fraud have prompted other states to enact similar laws that allow patients and children to pursue legal remedies against so called doctor daddies.
- Reproductive biologists at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City are trying to develop another way to modify human DNA that can be passed on to future generations. They are attempting to use the powerful gene-editing technique called CRISPR to alter genes in human sperm.
- The controversial experiment is aimed at finding new ways to prevent disorders caused by genetic mutations that are passed down from men, including some forms of male infertility. (NPR)
Out Of Time, Out Of Your Mind, Out Of Pocket
- Unscrupulous health care providers who take advantage of desperate patients isn’t new. Making unsupported claims about a medical treatment or supplement violates federal rules.
- Both the Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission regulate how companies advertise treatments and supplements, but a cumbersome process makes it difficult for the FDA and the FTC to stay on top of everything being hyped out there.
- And so it is that an addiction treatment center near Indianapolis called Emerald Neuro-Recover has been able to continue charging desperate people large sums of out-of-pocket money for treatment with an IV infusion of something called NAD therapy, while continuing to make wild claims about its success rate with absolutely no verifiable proof that it works. (NPR)
Only You Must Have Cause This Forest Fire
- Since Jair Bolsonaro took office in Brazil he has steadily weakened environmental protections, allowed increased logging in the rainforest, and failed to protect indigenous groups who live there.
- Last month the head of Brazil’s space agency was fired after Bolsonaro disputed the official deforestation data from satellites. International outcries have prompted Norway and Germany to halt donations to Brazil’s Amazon fund, and calls have been made for Europe to block a trade deal with Brazil.
- More than 72,000 fire outbreaks have occurred so far this year, an 84 percent increase over the same period last year. Half of the fires have been in the Amazon, which had a sharp spike in deforestation during July, followed by extensive burning in August. Bolsonaro’s response is to accuse environmental groups of setting the fires to embarrass his government. (Guardian)
- Brazilian minister booed at climate event as outcry grows over Amazon fires (Guardian)
- Gina Lopez, Philippine anti-mining advocate, dies aged 65 (BBC)
Snitches Burn Bridges
- In the latest breakdown between South Korea and Japan, an announcement was made by the Blue House, South Korea’s presidential residence in Seoul, that it plans to terminate a military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo.
- The General Security of Military Information Agreement was a pact pushed by the Obama administration and signed in 2016 as a way for the two countries to exchange valuable information on potential threats posed by North Korea, China and Russia.
- Earlier this month, Japan removed South Korea from its “whitelist” of favored trade partners. The Trump administration has been slow to offer any diplomatic leadership to help resolve conflicts in this part of the world, despite North Korea’s burgeoning nuclear and missile threats. (NPR)
Additional World News
- Global heating: ancient plants set to reproduce in UK after 60m years: Cycad in Isle of Wight produces outdoor male and female cones for first time on record (Guardian)
- Bold Women. Scandalized Viewers. It’s ‘Sex and the City,’ Senegal Style. (NYT, $)
- At Mao’s Beach, China’s Leaders Still Make History as Lifeguards Hide From the Sun (NYT, $)
- ‘All the forces’: China’s global social media push over Hong Kong protests (Reuters)
Western Journal Comes Out Of Right Field
- The New York Times investigates the Western Journal, a conservative online news site, started by a sinister right-winger, that has a huge audience and exists to stoke outrage and curate a narrative in which conservatives and their values are under constant assault.
- Few of the publication’s audience of more than 36 million know much about the company or who’s behind it. Nor do they know there’s almost no original reporting, only stories that are repackaged to fit into the right-wing narratives chosen by the site’s editors.
- The Western Journal has struggled to maintain its audience through Facebook’s and Google’s algorithmic changes aimed at reducing disinformation — actions the site’s leaders see as evidence of political bias. (NYT)
Shrinking Population Means Greenlight On Green Cards
- President Trump can rail against immigration all he wants, but the numbers don’t lie. A former director of the Congressional Budget Office, who has advised Republican presidential candidates and now leads the conservative American Action Forum, says: “Without immigration, we shrink as a nation.” That’s because growth is driven by two components — the size of the workforce, and how efficiently those workers produce things. And both those components are falling well behind the postwar average.
- One reason is Americans are having fewer babies. 2018 birth rates fell to a 30 year low, meaning the next generation of native-born Americans will be smaller than the current one.
- The investment company, Blackstone Group, used census data to predict that without immigration the working-age population between 25 and 64 years old would drop by 17 million by 2035. “We really need immigrants,” a company executive said. “If we have a shrinking population, it’s going to be tough to have rising [gross domestic product].” (NYT)
Fountain Of You’re Really Gonna Go There?
- A growing number of scientists, perhaps considering their own eventual demise, are questioning our basic conception of aging. What if you could challenge your death — or better yet prevent it all together? If the panoply of diseases that strike us in old age were symptoms, instead of causes, could we change how we classify the aging process itself to that of a disease that could be cured?
- One Harvard geneticist argues that medicine should view aging, not as a consequence of growing old, but as a condition in and of itself — a pathology that, like all pathologies, can be successfully treated. Since many of the most serious diseases today are a function of aging, he argues that only addressing aging at its root cause will allow us to continue living longer and longer. (Technology Review)
- Why does no one ever tell you how brilliant ageing can be? In later life, you know what sparks joy: loving new things, discarding old things. It’s finally time to live as you want to live, not as you’re told you should (Guardian)
- Happy ever after: 25 ways to live well into old age: Determined to enjoy longer and healthier lives, two women researched the science to find the key. Here, they share what they discovered (Guardian)
- An excellent article that we’ve cited before: Can We Live Longer but Stay Younger? With greater longevity, the quest to avoid the infirmities of aging is more urgent than ever. (New Yorker, $)
“There was a basic logical paradox that I called the ‘fraudulence paradox’ that I had discovered more or less on my own while taking a mathematical logic course in school…The fraudulence paradox was that the more time and effort you put into trying to appear impressive or attractive to other people, the less impressive or attractive you felt inside – you were a fraud. And the more of a fraud you felt like, the harder you tried to convey an impressive or likable image of yourself so that other people wouldn’t find out what a hollow, fraudulent person you really were.” – David Foster Wallace
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