A couple of posts back I wrote (hardly for the first time) about the sorts of problems posed by mistakes made during IVF. The mistakes I’m thinking of typically involve either lost or switched gametes or embryos. I’m inclined to think that mistakes are inevitable, and the problems posed when they occur can be particularly difficult.
Anyway, a while back I wrote about one particular mistakes case involving Carolyn and Sean Savage. The Savages had been undergoing IVF and a clinic mistakenly transferred the wrong embryo into Carolyn’s uterus–and embryo created with genetic material from a different couple, Paul and Shannon Morrell. The error was discovered much earlier than whatever error occurred in the case I wrote about so recently and so a different sort of remedy was possible. Carolyn Savage agreed to function as a surrogate–to carry the pregnancy to term and to give the child to the Morrells. Continue reading
There’s a new case I’d file under “ART mistakes” that is worth a little thought. According to this news story, Alex Waterspiel and Melanie Waters recently filed a lawsuit against Santa Monica Fertility–a clinic run by Dr. John Jain. clinic. (The plaintiffs are represented by Andrew Vorzimer. He’s the man behind The Spin Doctor blog and is involved in the prosecutions arising out of the baby-selling ring that has been much discussed.) The clinic created embryos from eggs and sperm provided by the couple in 2008. Some were transferred several years ago and the couple had a son. Three additional embryos created at that time were frozen for future use.
The couple returned to the clinic in January, 2011, hoping to have another child using those frozen embryos. The clinic couldn’t locate them. Continue reading
Some time ago I wrote about a case where a couple woman named Carolyn Savage ended up pregnant with an embryo created for a different couple, the Morells. This was the result of a mistake by the clinic. Carolyn and her husband, Sean, decided to give the child to the Morells once it was born. The case turned up again on the Today show not that long ago, I think in part because the Savages have written a book.
Thanks to the Spin Doctor blog I came across this essay written by Sean Savage. In it Savage, described as a cradle Catholic, considers and rejects the traditional church teaching on IVF. Continue reading
Here’s one of the stories I have been meaning to comment on. There is coverage from two different sources and you may need both of them to figure out the facts. Here’s what I think the story is:
A couple (husband and wife) in Ireland was using IVF with third-party sperm. They were both white. The selected donor was, I gather, also supposed to be white. The donor actually used was “Caucasian (Cape Coloured).” That’s a label that refers to members of a mixed race community in the Western Cape, South Africa. It seems that a staff member didn’t understand the implications of the label. As a result the children born to the couple had darker skin than the either member of the couple. In addition, the skin tones of the (two?) children differed, each from the other. The parents sued the clinic and the news reported here is that a judge rejected their claim. Continue reading
Posted in parentage
Tagged ART, mistakes
A recent post about an unwitting sperm donor in Delaware garnered many many comments and sparked some interesting discussion. It’s worth reading the post (and perhaps skimming the comments) but here’s the short version of the story: A woman tricked her boyfriend into giving her sperm samples which she used to become pregnant. Under these circumstances, the Delaware Supreme Court held that he was not a legal parent to the resulting child.
Several comments raised questions about gender and possible double standards. Even if we all share a commitment to equality between women and men (an assumption I’m just going to make for the moment) there are difficult questions here. When it comes to reproduction, in some ways men and women are quite similar–each contributes a gamete (men sperm and women eggs).
But in other ways men and women are not at all similar. Continue reading
[It’s the end of the semester here and the rush of obligations has put me a bit behind. I’ll play catch up with a couple of short notes before returning to some more substantial topics.] Here’s a recent story about ART mistakes in the UK. (It’s from the Guardian and there’s more on it from the BBC.)
There are several different ways to think about t. As the headline suggests, the actual number of mistakes nearly doubled between 2007/08 and 2008/09. That’s obviously a dramatic rise. Certainly it suggests we should be concerned. (I’ll return to this in a moment.)
At the same time the actual number of mistakes rose from 182 to 334. That’s 152 more mistakes in 2008/09. I suspect if the headline had said “One Hundred Fifty-Two More Mistakes” it wouldn’t have been nearly so eye-catching. Continue reading
Here’s a thought-provoking piece from The Guardian, UK. It ties back to some of my earlier thoughts about ART mistakes. (The most recent string was occasioned by the “wrong embryo” case featured on the Today show not so long ago.)
As the article notes, while uncertainty about paternity has been around forever, uncertainty about maternity is a new problem. Time was a woman gave birth and we knew she was the mother. Now? She may not be legally recognized as the mother of the child (because in a jurisdiction that enforces surrogacy agreements a woman who gives birth is not necessarily a mother). And she may be legally recognized, but she may not be genetically related to the child. In this brave new world, women as well as men may now need to ask “Is this child mine?”
This question–is the child mine-is a fascinating one. To say that this thing or that thing is mine is to claim possession. Children, of course, are not possessions, nor can they be possessed. As it is used in this article (and in the Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean) the question is really one about genetic lineage–was my genetic material used to create this child Continue reading