CANBERRA, Australia – A lesbian couple has failed in an attempt to sue an obstetrician they blamed for twins born by in-vitro fertilization rather than a single baby as requested.
The court ruling was welcomed Friday by Australian doctors who argue that giving birth to a healthy baby should not be grounds for a lawsuit. The high-profile case was the first of its kind in Australia and could yet be appealed.
The couple, whose names are suppressed to protect the anonymity of their two 4-year-old daughters, attempted to sue Canberra-based obstetrician Sydney Armellin for $382,000 for medical negligence for failing to ensure that fertility clinic staff implanted a single embryo.
The claim covered the cost of raising one of the children, including private school fees.
But Justice Annabel Bennett ruled Thursday the birth mother had acted "negligently" by failing to ensure that clinic medical staff were aware that she had changed her mind about having two embryos implanted.
The couple could not be immediately contacted for comment.
But during the hearing, the women issued a handwritten media statement to explain that the case had nothing to do with their feelings toward their daughters.
"This has never been a case about whether our children are loved," the statement said. "They are cherished."
Lawyer Thena Kyprianou said Thursday her clients were shocked at the ruling and would consider lodging an appeal within a month.
Paul Jones, state president of the Australian Medical Association, said the law should be changed to ensure such a suit will never be heard by a court again.
"We think that when the outcome is a healthy baby or babies, that these matters shouldn't end up in the court," Jones told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.