In-vitro fertilization (IVF) is a procedure used to treat infertility when other methods of assisted reproductive technology have failed. A major risk of IVF is multiple births because a common practice of treatment is multiple embryo transfer to boost the pregnancy rate. Since IVF is sometimes a last resort for a woman to get pregnant, many couples welcome the idea of multiple births since they were having trouble having one baby, let alone several. However, others are not so keen on the idea.
Recently, a lesbian couple in Australia attempted to sue their obstetrician for failing to ensure that a single embryo was implanted in the birth mother. The couple, now the parents of 4-year-old twin daughters, were seeking medical negligence in the amount of $382,000. According to an article in USA Today, the claim was to cover the cost of raising one of the children, including private school fees.
The judge overseeing the case ruled against the couple, citing that the birth mother had actually acted negligently by failing to ensure the IVF clinic staff were aware that she no longer wanted to have multiple embryos implanted. The couple are considering an appeal but the case leaves many, including the state president of the Australian Medical Association, wondering why such a suit was ever brought before a court in the first place.
Yes, multiple births are accompanied with increased risk of pregnancy loss, complications, prematurity, neonatal morbidity, and the potential for long term damage. However, when IVF results in the birth of healthy babies, why mess with it? IVF is an investment that people can spend years thinking about before deciding on treatment. It is not cheap and most expenses are paid out of pocket by the couple. If a couple has devoted that much time and personal resources for IVF treatment, shouldn't they have enough sense to set aside adequate resources for the end result? Or in this case...results?