Catholic bioethicist discusses IVF embryo mix-up

Catholic bioethicist discusses IVF embryo mix-up

Sean and Carolyn Savage
Sean and Carolyn Savage

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In reaction to the news that a woman was implanted with an embryo from another couple, Father Thomas Berg, Executive Director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics and the Human Person, spoke to CNA about the tragedies that can happen in “the unregulated world of IVF.”

Sean and Carolyn Savage shared their story with the Today Show on September 21.  The Ohio couple had been having trouble conceiving a child so had resorted to in vitro fertilization to have their fourth baby.

After going through the procedure to become pregnant, Carolyn was later given the news that the child growing inside of her was not hers.  The fertility clinic had inadvertently implanted another couple’s baby into her womb.

Fr. Berg told CNA that the Savage’s story is “in many ways just the latest absurd chapter in the wild west that is the unregulated world of IVF.”

“It is tragic that this multi-billion dollar industry has been able to play on the emotions of thousands of vulnerable couples to make the very prospect of regulating this industry not only a cultural taboo but a potentially fatal political third rail for anyone in congress who would dare to take it on,” he said. 

Sizing up the current state of the IVF industry, Fr. Berg stated, "it not only perpetuates the emersion of thousands of embryonic human beings into the absurd fate of deep frozen suspension until their eventual destruction (only a fraction of embryos created ever make it to live birth), but it sets the stage for on-going and tragic ‘mistakes’ like the one made with the Savages.”

Carolyn Savage is now 35 weeks pregnant and will give the baby to his biological parents following delivery.

According to the Today Show, the Savages have hired attorneys to make sure the fertility clinic they used accepts “full responsibility for the consequences of their misconduct.”

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