IVF twins and the resulting court case

The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lesbian sues over IVF twins article is one of those annoying ones where I realise halfway through the article that I’m being hurried down the garden path by the writer. But, babies! I’m supposed to say. Each one is a gift! That selfish woman (Andrew notes that the ABC version of the story uses the noun ‘mother’ to describe her by the way), the more the merrier!

Reading on, it turns out that the case hinges on the patient’s claim that she asked for a single embryo to be transferred via IVF, and that there were (at least) two transferred instead, as can be deduced from the subsequent birth of fraternal twins. While I’m not sure that the pain and suffering resulting from that is worth a wrongful life claim (but hey, that’s up to the courts) she does rather have a point. Multiple pregnancies are high risk for mother and child. Parenting twins is hard. IVF practitioners are criticised relatively regularly for tending to transfer too many embryos rather than too few and exposing women who are more likely to have a difficult pregnancy anyway to the extra risks of twins, triplets or higher multiples. (There’s a correlation between having difficulty conceiving and having a high risk pregnancy: that’s why you can’t get travel insurance if you get pregnant with any kind of medical assistance.) If you leave out the ‘lesbian!’ ‘wealthy!’ ‘ungrateful!’ ‘bad mother!’ overtones, the underlying facts sound like they are rather worthy of a complaint or a day in court. I hate those sort of articles.