IVF mix-up ignites ethical quandary

Japanese woman aborts fetus that may not have belonged to her

“Would you abort a fetus because it wasn’t yours?” This is the ethical quandary Slate writer William Saletan contemplates in this piece about a bizarre IVF mix-up that recently took place in a Japanese hospital, during which one woman ended up carrying an embryo belonging to another couple. In this case, the doctor got the dishes confused, and implanted three embryos, one of which belonged to someone else. The couple could not distinguish with any certainly whether the one that took hold was her own flesh and blood, and decided to abort the fetus. Now they are embroiled in a legal battle with the local government, claiming mental anguish. Meanwhile, the hospital maintains it only advised of the risks of postponing the abortion, but did not recommend that the woman terminate the pregnancy. To make matters more complicated, the other couple weren’t even told of the mishap until two months after the abortion.


Looking for more?

Get the best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.