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Cornell Student Articles on Topical Affairs

Birth negligence and what it means for new mothers

While having a baby might seem like a happy and joyous occasion, sometimes complications arise and the occasion turns sour. There have been many cases of birth negligence over the years which has caused grievous harm to expectant parents. From giving birth to decapacitated or injured babies to giving birth to babies who are not even related to the parents, the tinker law firm is able to help settle birth negligence cases and help new parents right the wrongs of medical personnel. 

The first and most recent case in birth negligence is highly publicized: a couple from New York, after receiving IVF from a reputable fertility clinic, find out upon their children’s birth that neither twin were related to them nor to each other. This blunder has led to a lawsuit which has yet to be resolved, however, lawyers are confident they will win the case without much complications as the law is in favor of the couple. 

The clinic had already been misleading the couple from the start, telling them that their embryos are all girls (which is a pricey procedure, oftentimes leading up to $3000 USD per test). However, upon successful implantation, the couple found out that they were in fact, carrying two boys. The clinic owners insisted that the doctors had read the ultrasounds wrong and reassured them that they are carrying the girls as promised. When the two boys were born, their parents were shocked to find that they were not of the same descent. The couple agreed to DNA testing and had to relinquish custody of the two boys to their respective families, thus suffering the loss of two children, ten months of hardships and expenses. The clinic is now set to stand trial for 16 counts of misdemeanor: medical malpractice, negligence, reckless and wanton misconduct and deceit and fraudulent concealment.

From the other party’s perspective, it is no less heartbreaking: imagine trying to conceive for years without success, have several failed IVFs and then learning that your son had just been born without your prior knowledge, 3000 miles away to a couple of strangers. It might read like a miracle, but the reality is bizarre and hard to accept. In a video released by lawyers of the biological parents, Anni Manukyan is heard crying and saying, “I didn’t get to bond with my baby. I wasn’t able to carry him. I wasn’t able to hold him. I wasn’t able to feel him inside of me”. The Manukyans spent the next few months frantically trying to get their son back as the New York couple were not willing to give up the children they had fostered. 

However, lawyers ruled in favor of the biological parents, stating that, “no gestational mother may ever claim visitation with the infant she carried, in view of her status as a ‘genetic stranger’ to the infant”. While it may seem harsh, especially for a pair who had gone through the trouble, time and effort to grow their children to suffer the consequences of medical malpractice and the negligence of the doctors, it is not the first time it has happened and neither will it be the last. IVF and fertility treatments have opened up a can of worms that oftentimes result in wrong embryos implanted in the wrong patients, or doctors who knowingly implanted the wrong embryos in order to increase their success rates or for personal agendas.

One such case was Dr. Donald Cline and his deep dark secrets: he impregnated women who came to his clinic for artificial insemination with his own sperm. The count to this date stands at 50 or so, all of whom keep in touch through a Facebook group. If not for DNA-tests and technology, the doctor would have gotten away scott-free. However, due to the lack of a paper trail and records which had been destroyed years ago, the retired doctor “ lost his medical license and was fined $500” and “was charged with two counts of felony obstruction of justice” – a true slap on the wrist for deceiving his patients. 

Births are a traumatic experience even without having to go through such incidents and advocates are fighting for better mothercare, especially post-birth aftercare. New mothers are more likely to develop a mental disorder such as PTSD which often follows a complicated birth or the more common: postnatal depression. There is hardly enough awareness regarding the effects of giving birth, despite numerous incidents of mothers committing infantcide in a fit of mania or breakdown. Even more mothers go about their lives, living with undiagnosed side-effects of the birth of their child from broken pelvic bones to incontinence and something needs to be done about post-birth healthcare. Currently, hospitals are only focused on prenatal care and the law largely revolves around the birth of the child as detailed above. Hopefully in the near future, mothers will be able to receive better care and receive better education regarding their bodies rather than being brushed off with a simple, “you just had a baby, don’t expect your body to feel or be the same”. 

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