Fertility Clinic’s Error in Giving Mother Wrong Unborn Baby Sparks Reform Call

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Sep 25, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Fertility Clinic’s Error in Giving Mother Wrong Unborn Baby Sparks Reform Call

by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
September 25
, 2009

Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The case of an Ohio fertility clinic that has received national attention for giving a mother the wrong unborn child is sparking calls for reform. One leading pro-life bioethicist says the entire industry is largely unregulated and needs more oversight from federal and state governments.

The case involves Sean and Carolyn Savage, an Ohio couple, who had hoped and struggled for one more child from in vitro fertilization.

When the doctor’s call came, however, Sean was in "total shock" as they were told from fertility clinic staff that the fertility clinic had implanted another couple’s embryos into Carolyn’s womb.

"The wand is on my abdomen and the technician’s talking to someone else: ‘There’s your baby’s nose. There’s your baby’s head,’ " she said. "It was surreal."

Carolyn has now become an unintended surrogate but the couple has rejected having an abortion. Carolyn will carry the baby to term and then relinquish him to his genetic parents.

"We knew if our embryo had been thawed and negligently put into another woman, we would expect that the child would be returned to us," she has said.

The American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) supposedly has "a series of strong protocol recommendations" for clinics, but Dr. David Prentice of the Family Research Council says they are merely recommendations.

"This is an entirely unregulated industry, a business. It’s the same manufacturing industry that brought us the ‘Octomom’ and ‘egg brokers,’ treating babies and women’s bodies and eggs as commodities," the former Indiana State University biology professor says.

"Maybe it’s about time we took a harder look at the whole idea of cavalierly creating life in the lab," he added.

"The fertility industry oversees itself," Prentice complains.

Experts say embryo mix-ups at fertility clinics are extremely rare, but, in those instances, they have degenerated into custody battles, ugly lawsuits and at least one abortion.

Carolyn, 40 is slated to give birth to the boy within the next two weeks. When that happens, parents Paul and Shannon Morell of Troy, Michigan, will be nearby, waiting to meet their son.

"How do you thank somebody for what they’ve done?" Shannon Morell told AP.

The fertility clinic made the mistake in early February and, ten days later, Sean Savage got a call from a doctor saying his wife was pregnant with someone else’s child. The Morells learned of the mistake one day later and the couples finally met about three months into the pregnancy.

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