Virtual Voices

Embryo mix-up leads to abortion

Issues

Once upon a time, two women visited the Center for Advanced Reproductive Services (CARS), located at the University of Connecticut's Health Center. They both had eggs extracted, fertilized, frozen, and stored for future implantation. (Why they each chose to do this is unclear.)

In April 2009, due to a mix-up involving identification cards, embryos from one of the women was mistakenly implanted into the other woman. One day later, the mistake was discovered and the now-pregnant woman was notified. According to a claim she filed against the state (and later dropped), she decided to end the pregnancy. Here the story gets a little confusing. In the aftermath, one doctor claims that the pregnancy didn't "seem normal" and prescribed methotrexate for what might have been an ectopic pregnancy. Despite declining hormone levels (indicating the pregnancy was ending), the woman requested a D&C (dilation and curettage).

The woman whose embryos were mistakenly given away wasn't notified for about three weeks. In February of this year, she filed a $2 million claim with the Office of the Claims Commissioner. In July she was granted permission to sue the state of Connecticut. According to one report, the state has already paid out a $45,000 settlement.

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The story raises a number of issues. One is the role of the state of Connecticut in all this. Most employees of CARS are paid by the state. Is Connecticut in the business of implanting and storing frozen embryos? Were taxpayer dollars used for an abortion in this case?

And there is the sheer human tragedy of it all. Embryos were destroyed because of a clerical error. At least one mother mourns.

Consigning embryos to cold storage vaults and entrusting them to bureaucrats just doesn't feel right, for good reason.

Marcia Segelstein
Marcia Segelstein

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