June 26, 2022

Abortion after mix-up at New York IVF clinic

A Massachusetts couple has aborted a baby at 6 months and is suing their IVF clinic after discovering that the baby was not related to them.

The unnamed couple already had three children but dreamed of having four. They consulted the Manhattan-based New York Fertility Clinic, went through the standard procedures and the woman became pregnant. However, at about 3 months, a test revealed that the developing embryo was not theirs. Doctors at the clinic said that they thought that the test was wrong, so the couple consulted an independent embryologist who confirmed after amniocentesis that the embryo was unrelated.

The couple then decided to abort the baby because they couldn’t bear the stress of a potential custody battle. Abortions are only allowed in New York and Massachusetts up to 24 weeks, but they managed to have the abortion a few days before it would have become illegal. A court filing explains their dilemma:

They had grown to love this baby, who had already begun kicking. On the one hand, they did not want to lose her even if she was not genetically related to them. On the other hand, they could not imagine carrying a stranger’s baby to term, only to potentially lose her in later legal battles to her biological parents, which would be devastating to the entire family.”

Now the couple is suing the New York Fertility Institute, embryologist Michael Femi Obasaju, and IVF doctors Khalid Sultan and Majid Fateh for allegedly impregnating the mother-to-be with a stranger’s embryo, for allegedly losing their embryos and for failing to disclose whether those were implanted into a stranger, potentially giving away their biological child, according to a lawsuit filed last month in the US Southern District Court of New York.

Another reason for media interest in this case was that the embryologist, Dr Michael Obasaju, had mixed up embryos before. In the late 90s he implanted a wrong embryo, which resulted in a white woman giving birth to one white baby and one black baby. The woman and her husband, Donna and Richard Fasano, tried to keep both babies, but the parents of the black baby successfully sued for custody.

The Massachusetts couple have declared in their court filing that they are devastated:

“Defendants’ misconduct robbed Ms. Doe of the ability to carry her own child. Ms Doe and Mr Doe are haunted by questions about what became of their embryos. They have needed to worry about whether their embryos were transferred to another unwitting couple, and whether they have another child or children out in the world whom they have never met.”  

“On top of those fears, Defendants inflicted on Ms. Doe an egregious violation of her body. She is plagued by the knowledge that she unknowingly carried a stranger’s baby inside her body. The horror of this situation cannot be understated.”

Some of the commenters on the article in the Washington Post were scathing. “I’m pro-choice, but this story is just sickening, said one person. “It seems they had no consideration for the baby she carried for 6 months. 6 months. Why couldn’t they have put it up for adoption if they didn’t want it?”