When Bianca Voss visited an ob-gyn in 1983 for fertility services, her doctor told her that he would use an anonymous sperm donor to help her conceive a child. But when her daughter, Roberta Voss, took a DNA test 37 years later, she realized her dad wasn't an anonymous donor at all — instead, her biological father turned out to be the ob-gyn himself.
In a federal lawsuit filed yesterday in New York's Southern District, Bianca Voss accuses gynecologist Dr. Martin D. Greenberg of "medical rape" for allegedly using his own sperm to inseminate her without her consent.
Greenberg, who maintained a medical practice in Manhattan, now lives in Aventura. Although the 77-year-old does not practice medicine in Florida, his medical license is still active in New York
. He did not respond to numerous phone calls and voicemails from New Times
seeking comment on the allegations.
According to the court complaint, Bianca Voss consulted with Greenberg in 1983 because she was unable to have a child on her own. In a virtual news conference held yesterday, she said Greenberg asked her if she'd mind if the donor was Jewish after asking about her preference for the ethnicity and/or religion of the sperm donor.
Bianca said Greenberg performed the procedure after charging her $100 to procure the sperm, and Roberta was born in 1984.
Roberta grew up knowing that she was conceived through artificial insemination, but she and her mother didn't know the identity of the father until Roberta took a 23andMe DNA test last September in an effort to learn about her paternal family's medical history.
When Roberta got the test results, it showed that Greenberg, who had also used 23andMe, was her father. A screenshot of Roberta's 23andMe profile, which lists Voss and Greenberg as Roberta's biological parents on her family tree, is included in the court complaint. (A copy of the complaint is embedded at the end of this article.)
"When I got the test results, I knew something was wrong, but I did not want to believe what it looked like. When I looked him up and saw the doctor's face, I recognized myself. Now I see his face every time I look in the mirror," Roberta said at the news conference.
Roberta said that when she found that Greenberg had a son who died at a young age, she reached out to him to find out if he had some medical condition that may have been passed on to her or her own son. But Greenberg did not respond, she said, and when she contacted other family members of the doctor on social media, they either didn't respond or said she had the wrong person.
Now Bianca Voss is suing Greenberg on a slew of civil charges, including battery, fraud, and professional negligence.
"My mind is filled with all sorts of thoughts and ideas: This is not possible. How terrible this is for Roberta and my grandson," Bianca Voss said at the conference, reading from a prepared statement. "I hate that they have to live with the fact that their father and grandfather is a medical rapist. I'm angry that I was violated in this manner."
The situation Bianca and Roberta Voss encountered is not unique
. Their attorneys say their case is part of a larger trend
caused by a lack of regulation over the fertility industry that has created a "Wild West" where mistakes and transgressions have gone untracked and unpunished.
Nationwide, a number of "fertility fraud"
cases have been reported. Like Roberta, other people using genetic testing services like 23andMe have learned they share DNA with their mother's fertility doctor.
For years, the act of fertility fraud was not technically illegal, as there weren't laws that specifically prohibited doctors from using their own sperm when performing artificial insemination on patients.
Recently, some states have passed or proposed legislation addressing fertility fraud. Last year, Florida passed Senate Bill 698
, creating penalties for doctors who implant a patient with reproductive material from a donor the patient didn't consent to. In New York, where Bianca Voss is suing Greenberg, legislators proposed a law
that creates a civil cause of action for victims and makes fertility fraud a crime of sexual battery.
Bianca Voss said she hopes the lawsuit will deter other doctors from misleading and violating women who seek fertility services.
"I do hope that it will act as a deterrent for other doctors who are out there thinking they can get away with doing things they shouldn't do," she said.