Misconception: Possible Pitfalls with Use of Assisted Reproductive Technologies

by jeeg 11. May 2010 05:56


The national media has been giving much coverage to the story of the Midwestern couples whose frozen embryos were mixed up, resulting in implantation of the wrong embryo. Featured on the Today Show and in People Magazine, Shannon and Paul Morell have been promoting their book “Misconception,” relaying their experience with a fertility clinic that mistakenly implanted their frozen embryo in another woman. “We believe it was an error in the lab,” Shannon’s physician reported. “Human error.”

From the Morell’s perspective, it was fortunate that the woman impregnated with their embryo, Carolyn Savage, decided to carry the pregnancy to term, give birth and then turn the baby over to the Morells. Carolyn Savage, 41, a Catholic mother of three and considered high risk, gave birth to a boy via C-section in September 2009. The Morells drove from their Michigan home to Ohio to be present for the birth and took the baby home with them.

While this situation was amicably resolved, it raises many questions about the burgeoning business of Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs), a multi-billion dollar global industry. What legal recourse do people have in a scenario like this? What if the woman impregnated with the wrong embryo decides to abort? Who pays the medical bills? What about the health risks this surrogate mother may suffer short and long term? What if she decides to keep the baby herself?

ARTs are far ahead of society’s having seriously dealt with all the ethical, legal, medical and cultural issues these technologies create. The fact that this industry is completely unregulated in the United States should give everyone cause for concern.

What are your thoughts?

Kathy Sloan


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