They dubbed him the “babymaker.” Cecil Jacobson was a US fertility doctor who was indicted in 1992 for using his own sperm to impregnate his female patients. Considering that he could have received a sentence of up to 280 years in prison and a fine of $500,000, some may feel Jacobson got off easy with a 5-year sentence and only $116,805 in fines.
Jacobson graduated from Brown University and Middlesex Medical School before becoming a researcher and Chief of Reproductive Genetics at George Washington University. In the 1960s, Jacobson’s claim to fame was the planting of a fertilized egg from a female baboon into her male counterpart. Jacobson stated the pregnancy terminated around 4 months. The results of the supposed work were never reported in a scientific publication.
By the 1980s, Jacobson had started operating a genetic center in Virginia. He proclaimed himself a fertility specialist and began treating patients who had difficulties getting pregnant. He used the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) regularly and as a form of treatment. Jacobson would falsify pregnancies, have patients undergo ultrasounds, and then tell them that the fetus had died around the third month of pregnancy. Suspicions began to arise, which were reported to local authorities.
Federal investigators stepped in and came to find that in addition to the falsified pregnancies, that Jacobson had been artificially inseminating patients with sperm, supposedly from screened and anonymous donors. The investigators determined that there was no donor program, and that Jacobson was using his own sperm to impregnate patients. It’s suspected that Jacobson may have fathered as many as 75 of these children by inseminating women with his sperm.
Jacobson argued that he was innocent of these charges and said they were based on human error. He was convicted in 1992 and had his medical license revoked. In 1994, Jacobson’s story was made into a television movie The Babymaker: The Dr. Cecil Jacobson Story and spoofed on Saturday Night Live.
- Fertility doctor charged with fraud over methods", American Medical News, February 24, 1992.
- Doctor is Found Guilty in Fertility Case. The New York Times. March 5, 1992. http://www.nytimes.com/1992/03/05/us/doctor-is-found-guilty-in-fertility-case.html