Parents of baby girl sue doctor for allegedly promising them a boy via IVF conception

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

A recent malpractice lawsuit in Indonesia is sparking discussion on the ethics of In Vitro fertilization (IVF), particularly in regards to advancements in medical science that allow parents to choose their potential children’s gender, and what happens if the actual gender of the baby is not what they asked for.

Tommy Han and Evelyn Saputra, a couple from Surabaya, East Java, filed an administrative malpractice lawsuit against Dr Aucky Hinting, an andrologist specializing in assisted reproductive technology, after claiming that they had been promised by the doctor that they would have a baby boy using his IVF procedure, but instead got a baby girl.

Furthermore, the baby, who was born in late 2016, reportedly suffered from intestinal complications after birth.

The couple actually filed a criminal report against Hinting, but the case was dropped by the police. They then filed a civil lawsuit for malpractice against Hinting earlier this month, as well as the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), who they accused of protecting the doctor after not issuing an ethics sanction against him.

“We just want (Dr Hinting) to apologize humanely behind closed doors, without media publication,” said Eduard Rudy, the couple’s legal representative, as quoted by Kompas.

“We’ve tried mediation a few times but that always failed. The defendant never even showed up.”

It’s not clear if the plaintiffs are only demanding an apology from Hinting or if they want financial compensation as well. The IVF procedure reportedly cost them Rp47.68 million, about USD3,600, and they also had to pay an untold amount of money to have their baby undergo medical procedures for her health complications.

After a long silence, Hinting yesterday gave his side of the story about the lawsuit to the media. According to him, Tommy and Evelyn first consulted him about gender-specific IVF in November 2014, but Hinting advised against it because the couple has small children and told them to wait another year.

Tommy and Evelyn continued to consult Hinting about the procedure, and it was eventually carried out in December 2015. Hinting said that, at the time, he had told the couple there was about a 15% failure rate regarding the gender assignment of the baby.

“I told the patient about the risk of failure, as my job is merely to assist. Only God can determine the result,” Hinting said, as quoted by Merdeka yesterday.

The Surabaya District Court is going to hear the case in August.

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