Mobile Infirmary Medical Center and a fertility clinic are under fire in a wrongful death lawsuit after a patient destroyed a handful of embryos.
For many couples, the idea of starting a family and welcoming a child into their home is exciting. Unfortunately, parenthood just got a little further away for three Alabama couples after a hospital patient at Mobile Infirmary Medical Center “wandered into an embryology laboratory and dropped five frozen embryos that had undergone in vitro fertilization.” As a result, the couples recently filed a civil wrongful death lawsuit against the medical center and a local fertility clinic, Center for Reproductive Medicine (CRM).
The suit is citing “a judge’s concurring opinion in a 2016 Alabama case, Stinnett v. Kennedy, that said ‘a zygote or embryo is the beginning of a new human life’ and ‘this court reaffirms the principle that unborn children are protected by Alabama’s wrongful-death statute from the moment life begins at conception.’”
What happened, exactly? Well, according to court documents, a patient left their room at Mobile Infirmary on December 20, 2020, and “wandered to the Center for Reproductive Medicine’s (CRM) fertility clinic and embryology laboratory, where embryos are cryogenically preserved.” The suit argues the laboratory was “negligently unlocked and unmonitored.” The suit further notes that the patient “removed the embryos and was burned by the subzero temperatures, causing them to drop the embryos on the floor where they began to slowly die.”
Tragically, by the time CRM staff realized what had happened, the embryos belonging to six different patients had died. One of the lawsuits against the defendant’s states:
“Wrongfully causing the death of an embryonic human being is no different than causing the death of a human being at any other stage of life…Embryonic human beings are human beings.”
When it comes to the issue of negligence, the suit claims the clinic failed to protect the embryos entrusted to its care. One of the suits states:
As for negligence, the lawsuits allege the clinic did not properly guard the embryos in its care and states:
“This is no different than DHR regulations requiring that entry into daycare centers be secured and closely guarded. And the reasoning is the same: small children, including embryos, cannot protect themselves. Thus, those who willingly agree to care for them must do so with utmost care, attention, and security.”
Both of the suits are seeking a jury trial. One of them argues that “should Alabama’s wrongful death laws not apply to the in vitro fertilized embryos, the plaintiffs will demand a judgment for compensatory damages for the value of the embryonic human beings that were wrongfully destroyed, severe mental anguish and emotional distress.”