Here’s a totally messed-up story:

Mix-up at OHSU fertility clinic leads to flurry of lawsuits

A man gave a sperm sample at the fertility clinic; it was supposed to be for his fiancee, but someone at the clinic made a big boo-boo and gave it to a woman who wanted to be inseminated by an anonymous donor.  (This entry is already too indecorous for my tender sensibilities.)  The clinic realized the mistake and asked the man, M.H., to come back to the clinic and give another sample; they didn’t explain why at this time.  They told the wrongly-inseminated woman, Jane Doe, and her husband that they gave her the wrong sperm; she says they coerced her into taking the morning-after pill and offered to give her a free abortion if she became pregnant, or two free inseminations if she did not.  (This part is confusing to me.  Shouldn’t they have offered her free inseminations even if she did have an abortion?  Whatever.)  Eventually they told M.H. about the mix-up, and M.H. immediately set about trying to find out if Jane Doe became pregnant and if there’s a child out there with his DNA.  He wants to assert his paternity rights.  Jane Doe and her husband want to be left alone.  It isn’t known whether or not Jane Doe has had a child.

This is one of those unfortunate scenarios in which acting ethically resulted in acting cruelly.  Of course the clinic was obligated to disclose what really happened, and I’m not suggesting they shouldn’t have.  But wouldn’t it have been much better for everyone involved if they’d done the unethical thing and said, “Whoops!  Ahem–what sperm?  I didn’t see any sperm.  Did you see any sperm, Gladys?  Me either.  Hey, look over there–is that a turkey baster?”

I’m very interested to see how a judge rules on this.  M.H. never intended to be a sperm donor, so he is understandably miffed about his sperm being donated to a complete stranger.  (Would that all men were so picky about where their sperm ended up.)  However, it isn’t Jane Doe’s fault that the clinic gave her the wrong sperm.  She has the right not to have an abortion; she also has the right not to gestate a child for the benefit of a complete stranger.  It seems unlikely that she would have become pregnant if she took the emergency contraception; however, if she didn’t become pregnant and didn’t have a child, why doesn’t she just tell M.H. just that so he’ll leave her and her family alone?  I suppose it’s the principle of the thing.

It also isn’t clear from the story whether or not M.H. and his fiancee were ever able to successfully conceive; perhaps it doesn’t matter.  If I were M.H.’s pregnant fiancee, I think I would be miffed that he was spending money on lawyers to track down his lost sperm instead of helping me get the nursery ready.  If I were his not-pregnant fiancee, I think I would be miffed that he was spending money on lawyers to track down his lost sperm instead of planning our wedding or getting me pregnant.  I mean, theoretically he could do all these things, but since men are such notorious single-taskers, and mothers-and-brides-to-be are so notoriously self-centered (and crazy), I would imagine that the accumulated distractions would have a detrimental effect on the relationship.  Perhaps M.H. and his fiancee are no longer together.  Who knows?

I have to wonder, though, just what this man hopes to accomplish, should it turn out that there is a child out there with his DNA.  That’s not a family situation I’d volunteer to be part of.  But I’m a woman, and my eggs more or less stay put.  I guess it’s possible that I could be in a situation where fertility clinic workers were extracting my eggs to be fertilized by my husband’s sperm in a petrie dish, or whatever, and some doofus makes a mistake and fertilizes my egg with some strange(r) person’s sperm–what would I want to do in that situation?  Maybe it would depend on what the unwitting sperm donor looked like.  Just kidding.  I don’t know.  I’m grateful I’ve never had to deal with infertility, let alone fugitive DNA.

What is your take, gentle readers?