License revoked for obstetrician accused of inseminating 2

February 7, 2022 GMT

A retired Vermont doctor accused of impregnating two patients with his own sperm in artificial insemination procedures in the 1970s has had his medical license permanently revoked.

In an order signed Friday, the Vermont Board of Medical Practice reprimanded Dr. John Coates III and revoked his license.

Coates, who practiced in central Vermont in the 1970s, specializing in obstetrics and gynecological care, according to the board, and is facing lawsuits from two women.

A Florida couple sued Coates in U.S. District Court 2018, accusing him of being the father of their daughter due to an artificial insemination procedure in 1977. Last year, a Colorado woman also sued Coates, accusing him of using his own genetic material when he artificially inseminated her in 1978 at what was then the Central Vermont Hospital in Berlin.

Both women said Coates agreed to inseminate them with donor material from an unnamed medical student. Both women complained to the board.

Coates’ attorney Peter Joslin said his client disagrees with the board’s decision. Coates also must pay a $4,000 administrative penalty.

The board also said Coates made misrepresentations and misled its investigative committee.

When the committee asked Coates to undergo genetic testing in the case of the first patient, Coates refused, the board said. The committee learned Coates had participated in genetic testing related to the complaint in another forum and asked him to provide information, the board said.

He responded, saying, “While I have no present memory of ever having used my own genetic material to artificially inseminate a female patient, genetic testing has confirmed that I was the sperm donor for the pregnancy that resulted in the birth of (the daughter of Patient 1),” according to the board. “I have no knowledge of, or reason to suspect the existence of any other occasion where I used my own sperm in the performance of an artificial insemination procedure.”

After getting a complaint from the second patient, the committee asked Coates to respond to the allegations. Coates said that based on the DNA testing information, he had used his own semen in the artificial insemination of her, the board said.

Coates did not participate in the hearing before the panel. His attorney submitted a letter stating that Coates was surrendering his medical license permanently, and stated, “Dr. Coates retired from medical practice in 2008. He is now 80 years old. He is giving up his medical license permanently. The events that are at issue occurred more than forty years ago. Dr. Coates regrets the circumstances giving rise to the charges.”