Fertility Doc Implanted Wrong Embryos Into Woman, Then Did an Abortion Without Her Consent

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Nov 24, 2015   |   6:21PM   |   Washington, DC

A California couple’s hopes to have another child turned into a nightmare for more than just themselves after they say their fertility doctor implanted the wrong embryos and then aborted them without their knowledge or consent.

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“We went there to have a baby, not to kill a baby,” Melissa Pineda told KTLA 5 News in Los Angeles.

Now, the couple is suing Dr. Rifaat Salem, of Torrance, California, for medical malpractice. Melissa and her husband, David, told The Daily Mail that they never would have agreed to have an abortion. And the Pinedas said they want the couple whose embryos they received to know the truth.

In 2013, the Pinedas sought help with infertility from Dr. Salem after they struggled to conceive. In early 2014, Melissa went through in vitro fertilization treatment and was implanted with several embryos, according to the report. Two days later, while she was supposed to be on bed rest, Melissa said she received a call from Dr. Salem’s office telling her to come in immediately.

According to The Daily Mail:

When she got to the practice, Mrs Pineda says she had a disturbing conversation with a nurse who said she came in to check on the couple’s remaining embryos on Saturday and found that all 14 original eggs were still in the petri dish – suggesting that they had in fact been implanted with another person’s embryos.

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Without any explanation, Dr. Salem said he wanted to check in on how the embryos were doing. But Mrs Pineda believes she actually underwent a very painful dilation and curettage procedure – a scraping of the cervix which is the most common method used in first term abortions.

Mrs Pineda was told to come in the next day to receive an injection of a drug that would stop some of her bleeding, but she later found out that what she really received was the drug methotrexate – a chemical abortion drug.

The Pinedas are now suing the doctor, alleging that Salem did not received their consent before either abortion procedure. One nurse testified that Melissa did not sign off on the D&C abortion procedure until after it was performed, according to the report.

David Pineda mourned the loss of the baby who he believes Dr. Salem aborted.

“What if we did have a viable baby that was going to be born we should have a little kid running around now because of what he did,” he told the news outlet. “That’s the hard part and what will never be replaced – the moments and the happiness with this child that we wanted and it’s not there now.”

Some fertility treatments such as in vitro fertilization have raised ethical concerns in pro-life and religious communities. Biology shows that human life begins at conception, meaning that embryos created for in vitro fertilization are human beings. Because of the nature of the fertility treatment, more embryos are often created than are implanted. Some embryos are frozen and stored for later pregnancy attempts. Others get destroyed. Some pro-lifers are concerned that these very young human beings are not being treated as such in fertility clinics across America, and that many Americans desperate to have children do not realize the truth that their embryos are already human beings.

But the Pinedas clearly believed the embryos implanted in Melissa, whether their own or someone else’s, deserved a chance at life.

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