Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Article: DNA Test Kit Horror Story

Estate planningVictoria Hill, a 39-year-old licensed clinical social worker from suburban Connecticut, always felt different from her father in appearance and temperament. This curiosity led her to purchase a DNA testing kit from 23andMe a few years ago to investigate a health issue. However, what started as a routine quest for self-discovery turned into a shocking revelation. The test revealed that she had more siblings than she had ever imagined - a staggering count of 22. Worse still, she discovered that her biological father was not the man she grew up with but rather a fertility doctor named Burton Caldwell, who allegedly used his sperm to inseminate her mother without her consent. This revelation shattered Hill's understanding of her identity and relationships, mainly when she learned that one of her newfound siblings was her high school boyfriend. This situation could have led to accidental incest.

Hill's story is emblematic of a more significant issue of fertility fraud plaguing the United States, where fertility doctors have misled patients and their families by secretly using their sperm instead of donor sperm. Despite the significant emotional and ethical implications of such actions, most states lack laws against fertility fraud, leaving victims with little recourse. Hill's case underscores the urgent need for regulation in the fertility industry and the growing movement of donor-conceived individuals advocating for transparency and accountability. While some progress has been made with the passage of new state laws in recent years, the legal landscape remains inconsistent, highlighting the challenges faced by those seeking justice and closure in cases of fertility fraud.

For more information see Rob Kuznia, Allison Gordon, Nelli Black, and Kyung Lah “DNA Test Kit Horror Story”, CNN, February 14, 2024.

https://lawprofessors.typepad.com/trusts_estates_prof/2024/02/article-dna-test-kit-horror-story.html

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