NEWS: They fell pregnant with triplets using IVF. And now they want to sue.

They conceived triplets using IVF. And now they want to sue.



A couple in Queensland who used IVF to conceive, are suing the fertility clinic that they paid to help them. And not because they didn’t get a chance to ever hold a baby in their arms. Because they got more than they expected.

The Weekend Australian has reported that the 35-year-old couple is suing after a woman gave birth to triplets instead of the twins she thought she was having.

The couple are seeking $510,400 in damages, to help cover the costs of bringing up a third child that they weren’t expecting.

The couple alleges that when they signed a consent form, they indicated that they wanted a maximum of two children. But during the embryo transfer, a doctor planted three embryos – not two.

The couple’s three non-identical triplets are now three-years-old, and the couple told the paper that they had thought long and hard about whether or not they should push forward with the lawsuit.

Three kids is a handful. Or armful.

The mother said, “We don’t take this legal action lightly … but believe the clinic should be held accountable for the way they mismanaged our IVF plans.”

The case is reminiscent of a similar claim that was put forward in the ACT back in 2005, where the parents had twins instead of one child. In that instance, the High Court upheld the decision to award the parents $236,495.70 in damages, and an additional $80,990.59 for the birth mother.

It is also similar to a story that Mamamia covered earlier this year, which saw a husband and wife write about their experience of IVF on the website Babble.

In a series of posts, the man and woman wrote about their struggle to provide their son with a sibling, but the anger and guilt they felt when they fell pregnant with two children – instead of one.


Here’s a taste of what they wrote:

The husband:  …we’re pissed. And terrified, and angry, and guilty, and regretful.

The wife: In my mind I had done nothing less than ruin our family.

The husband: As horrible as this might sound, we found ourselves wishing these twins away.

The wife: The twins are coming fast, and I don’t feel a sense of joy. Instead, I feel responsible. We only wanted one.

At the time, Kelly Exeter wrote for Mamamia:

‘Babies are really hard.’

It’s almost impossible to feel anything but revulsion at the thoughts both parents admit to. And I can’t imagine that their lives were in any way improved by sharing these thoughts so publicly with the world.

As with anything though, if you’re able to look beyond the initial visceral reaction, beyond the black and white; shades of grey will always emerge. And maybe because I had my second baby only five months ago, it’s easier for me to cut straight to grey.

And the first thing I see in their words is terror…

Because here’s one thing people tend to forget about babies: It doesn’t matter how badly they are wanted or how much love you have for them or how ‘good’ they are. They are really hard.

The Australian followed up on the story of the Queensland couple today, with a story from Sarah Elks and Sean Parnell that explores these shades of grey in filing a lawsuit of this description.

And the shades of grey do not merely cover why the couple might choose to file the lawsuit for financial reasons. The shades of grey cover why they might be wary of filing the lawsuit. And that is because it will undoubtedly open their family up to criticism.

The husband and wife who wrote for Babble about the upcoming birth of their unwanted twins faced vicious attacks on social media. The ACT case in 2005 resulted in a long, public battle in the courts, which was covered extensively by the papers. From The Australian:

Families often become legal, political and religious talking points, and the latest civil case will be no exception. When aspects of scientific endeavour – such as embryonic stem-cell research, genetic engineering and even animal cloning – seem to evolve faster than ethical and regulatory frameworks, many people question the sanctity of human life and the boundaries between nature and science, not to mention the wishes of a parent or scientist versus the rights of a would-be child.

One of the most obvious concerns in a situation like this is what will happen when the children involved grow up – and find out that one of them was considered to be an extra ‘financial burden’. Another is whether there should be a legal precedent for adults using IVF or similar to conceive when they are having difficulty, then being able to sue if they end up with one more children than expected.

In a case like this, there are no simple answers.

Only shades of grey.

So, over to you – do you think parents who have used science to conceive should be able to sue if they fall pregnant with more children than they signed up for? Or should they be happy with the fact they were able to conceive at all?