A lesbian couple in Australia is suing the doctor who erroneously implanted two embryos instead of one. The couple were adamant about their desire for a single child, and wanted to take no chance on a multiple pregnancy. (Of course, there is never NO chance of multiples, because it’s always possible an embryo will split spontaneously, resulting in monozygotic — ie identical — twins.)

Anyway, the women originally had agreed to implant two embryos in order to increase their chance of conception, but at the last minute, the biological mother asked the doctor only to implant one. He informed her that there would still be a chance of twins, to which she responded, “Do not even joke about it. I only want one.”

However, the doctor forgot to tell the embryolist — who did the actual transfer — about the change, and he implanted two embryos. The doctor has admitted his mistake but is asking that their award be reduced by 35% because they failed to follow proper procedure when they changed their mind at the last minute after previously signing a consent form for two embryos.

The pregnancy resulted in dizygotic (fraternal) twins, meaning both embryos implanted and were carried to term. The couple in question is now parenting three-year-old twin girls. And they are suing the doctor who screwed up for more than $400,000 to cover the costs of raising one of the girls, including fees for a private school.

Okay, up until this point, I’m with the parents whole-heartedly. The doctor screwed up and he should be held accountable. Had the doctor only implanted one embryo, which subsequently split, they would be responsible for the cost of raising two children. But because this child was the direct result of his negligence, he should be responsible for the cost of (a) termination or (b) raising the child.

But here’s where it becomes a case of two wrongs not making a right: rather than just making that point and leaving it in the hands of the judge, the parents have detailed just how miserable they are due to the fact that they have two children. The non-biological mother testified that her partner has lost some of her capacity to love and that their lives have become so mired in the day-to-day responsibilities of parenting that their relationship has suffered. First of all, ALL parents — whether they have one child or twelve — go through changes in their relationship when they have children. Did they really believe that by having only one child, nothing would change at all? Are they insane? But more importantly, are they even taking into account the fact that someday their daughters are going to read these news articles? What kind of parent testifies before the Supreme Court that not only is their child a mistake, but also that their lives have effectively been ruined by the birth of said child? After intense backlash from the public, the parents have come forward and changed their tune a little — claiming that their children are adored and that they are only suing because of the mistake. And while I don’t doubt that they love their children, I have to wonder how a parent who loves their children could disregard the emotional distress they are undoubtedly setting up in their quest for retribution.

Furthermore, I just can’t get past the idea of a parent suing over the conception of a child. Especially a parent who was so desperate to have a child that they used fertility treatments to conceive. It reminds me of the mother I used to nanny for many years ago. She also used IVF to conceive her children, but unlike this couple it didn’t take on the first try. It took her eight years to conceive her first child and another three years to conceive her twins. She called them her “million dollar babies” because she had spent well over that amount on their conception.

Unfortunately for her, she had only ever planned on more than two children. She told me she would have been happy to conceive twins on the first try, but after giving birth once she was adamant about wanting only one more. When she discovered the second pregnancy was twins, she spent months depressed, until she discovered one of the babies was struggling in utero and there was a question that he would survive. Thankfully, he did and he wound up being perfectly healthy. Was she thankful? Did her near loss make her realize how thankful she was? In a word? No. Her reaction was: “Well…I know you shouldn’t WISH for a death of your child, but I couldn’t help thinking maybe it was for the best. After all, I really only wanted two children. But it just didn’t work out.”

Excuse me? The death of your child didn’t “work out”. Forgive me if I don’t cry for you.

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