Patterico's Pontifications

9/26/2009

The Moral Choice

Filed under: General — DRJ @ 1:33 pm



[Guest post by DRJ]

We’ve debated the difference between moral and legal choices in the past. The Savage family of Ohio knows the difference:

“The Savages say a fertility clinic outside Ohio transferred the wrong frozen embryo in February. Ten days later, they got a call from a doctor at the clinic saying she was pregnant with someone else’s child.

The Savages said in an interview with The Associated Press on Wednesday they never considered terminating the pregnancy or trying to fight for custody.

They have hired attorneys who say they are working to make sure the fertility clinic accepts responsibility.

The Morells, who live in Troy, Mich., found out about the fertility clinic mistake a day after the Savages.

The two couples knew nothing about each other. Shannon Morell feared that the pregnant woman would choose abortion, ending their chance to give their 2-year-old twin girls a sibling.

A few days passed before they learned that the Savages were not only willing to continue with the pregnancy but also to hand over the baby without hesitation.”

Carolyn Savage, age 40, gave birth to the Morell’s new baby boy on Thursday. She has requested privacy, saying “Our family is going through a very difficult time.”

— DRJ

22 Responses to “The Moral Choice”

  1. God bless them

    SteveG (97b6b9)

  2. Sad all the way around. I agree with what Dr. Laura said about this. The fertility clinic should not have told either family. The mother that carried this baby bonded with HER baby in her womb.

    The brave new world breaks a lot of hearts.

    fiestamom (cf47bb)

  3. Great story.

    daleyrocks (718861)

  4. I think that clinic owe BOTH families big time.

    I think Mrs. Savage needs to be commended and consoled. Hopefully the Morells will grant liberal visitation to the child and explain why their son has 2 mommies.

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  5. It would be the height of immorality not to admit the mistake of implanting the wrong embryo.

    As least this woman was left to choose her fate to the extent possible. The clinic must be held accountable.

    SarahW (692fc6)

  6. Wow ! The clinic will no doubt do what it can to help both families but the reaction of Mrs Savage is truly honorable.

    I had a friend who was a highly respected OB GYN in the community and whose life was ruined in the UCI fertility scandal a decade ago. That was a hysterical reaction to some foolish decisions made by two clinic directors, not my friend. They had a bunch of “orphan” embryos that had been abandoned by the couples who had produced them. Other couples had had failed implants and the two directors decided to use the abandoned embryos without telling anyone. A disgruntled employee blew the story a few years later. The university took the morally indefensible course and attacked all three physicians who had been associated with the clinic. The two responsible left the country to return to South America where the university had recruited them. The third physician, who had had noting to do with the scandal, was prosecuted and was on home arrest for at least a year. His life was ruined. UCI has since had a number of other scandals.

    This practice of using discarded embryos is now standard policy all over the world but with full knowledge and permission of both couples.

    This looks like a simple mistake but there may be more to it.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  7. Mike, UCI actually recruited somebody that wasn’t Chinese???

    PCD (1d8b6d)

  8. The Savage family’s grace and honor are simply breathtaking.

    Dmac (b905fa)

  9. I have a low opinion of UCI on several counts. Or could you tell ?

    Mike K (2cf494)

  10. The Savage family displays immeasurable faith, love, courage, and fortitude in doing this. What an amazing story, and very humbling for the rest of us.

    Peg C. (48175e)

  11. What wonderful people, the Savages. May they be blessed for their selflessness and integrity.

    They must be suffering a lot right now.

    The brave new world breaks a lot of hearts.

    Comment by fiestamom — 9/26/2009 @ 1:53 pm

    Seriously, and not just in the area of bioethics.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  12. I agree with what Dr. Laura said about this. The fertility clinic should not have told either family.

    Did she say that? Wow. That is really, really surprising, given how much emphasis she’s put on honesty in the books of hers I’ve read.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  13. I agree with what Dr. Laura said about this. The fertility clinic should not have told either family. The mother that carried this baby bonded with HER baby in her womb.

    I’m compelled to disagree with this. While yes, the mother would bond with the baby in her womb, it might very easily and possibly like be different once the baby was born and there issues of resemblance, or lack thereof; and, the issue of bonding once the baby is born could be dicey: women seem to know instinctively if something is not quite right about their baby, or have a nagging suspicion something is ‘off’.

    What would have happened if no one had been told, and the mother daily believed that the baby wasn’t hers and begin tracing it back (which would be easy) to the fertility clinic, and later discovered the truth – would the situation be easier and less complicated to deal with once the baby was 4 or 5 or however many months in their home? Or would it be far more complicated and heart wrenching.

    I’m overwhelmed by Mrs. Savage’s grace and kindness. And moreso, I’m so very thankful the truth was told to her and that she was then given opportunity in life to act with selfless courage and bravery and that another family was given her great gift. This life is messy and heartbreaking and filled with millions of people plowing through some aftermath of selfishness, either their own or others. To see the opposite of this occur, is to see the better angels of humanity.

    Dana (863a65)

  14. no one you know,

    I don’t agree with Dr. Laura if she said that, whether she was motivated by religion or medical ethics. From a medical ethics perspective, I don’t know of any excuse for failing to honestly inform patients about a procedure. And from a religious perspective, God blesses parents with children and with the medical research that helps couples conceive. However, unlike God, humans are fallible. That researchers may be doing God’s work doesn’t excuse them from doing it honestly.

    DRJ (b008f8)

  15. Just another reason that IVF is a bad idea….

    Thank God they did the right thing!

    Foxfier (97deae)

  16. Dr. Laura needs to enter the 21st century and larn herself more medicine. We’re now in the age of routine genetic testing. In addition to the family resemblance issues Dana pointed out, there’s also the baby’s (biological) family history to consider. Withholding that could have serious health consequences.

    And deliberately covering up the mistake would expose the clinic to much greater liability.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (0ea407)

  17. I don’t agree with Dr. Laura if she said that, whether she was motivated by religion or medical ethics. From a medical ethics perspective, I don’t know of any excuse for failing to honestly inform patients about a procedure…

    Comment by DRJ — 9/26/2009 @ 6:40 pm

    Well said, and I don’t agree w/ what she (may have) said either. Must say I’m not convinced that this type of research is right but I know there are a lot of different opinions on that.

    Maybe some of the hesitation I feel about it comes from the fact that there are so many couples who can’t conceive, and so many children who don’t have parents, and, well…let me put it this way, one can’t help noticing those two wrenching situations existing at the same time. Just sayin’.

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  18. Foxfier – If it were not for IVF, I would not have either of my little angels, so I most certainly do not share your sentiment.

    JD (8d3f8f)

  19. JD-
    rather not get into it here, but I do not believe that IVF is consistent with human dignity. Even when everything goes right there’s horrific risks. When things don’t go right– and, since we’re dealing with humans here, there will be a time when that is true– you end up with a best-case like the above where the woman will carry the baby with loving care and then give him or her away, and a worst-case where a couple’s last child was implanted into the wrong woman, and killed when the mistake was discovered.

    What’s done is done, and every person is just as inherently precious as any other– no matter their origin or location of conception.

    Foxfier (97deae)

  20. Foxfier, you have no idea how common IVF has become. I have been participating in a medical ethics discussion on the subject of IVF vs adoption. I have learned that well off young women will wait about a year to get pregnant after marriage and then will use IVF, often having multiple births to get the child bearing over with. Don’t you see all those strollers with more than one kid ?

    It has become a matter of convenience to wealthy couples. I wasn’t aware of this subculture until some discussions with my kids and their friends.

    Mike K (2cf494)

  21. She has requested privacy

    It’s supposed to be all about privacy. We’ll see how much privacy they get.

    Amphipolis (8cd9a3)

  22. Mike K-
    you are incorrect about my knowledge of the prevalence of IVF– know how much children have become a commodity.
    (Try Mary Meets Dolly for some stories on the exportation of dirt-cheep IVF to the developing world, probably so that the “leftovers” can then “morally” be used for human cloning.)

    The morality of a matter is not changed by how common it is; guessing you’ve discussed the “snowflake babies”– adopted “leftover” IVF kids?

    Foxfier (97deae)


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