Court halts genetic testing for possible parents of wrongly implanted embryo

Baby, nearly 2 months old, to have a legal representative appointed for her amid discussions on whether sampling to identify biological origins should continue

Assuta Medical Center in Rishon Lezion. (Screen capture: Google Maps)
Assuta Medical Center in Rishon Lezion. (Screen capture: Google Maps)

The Lod District Court on Sunday ordered that a guardian from the State Attorney’s Office be appointed for a baby born after an embryo was mistakenly implanted in the wrong woman, amid a legal battle over genetic testing to find her biological parents.

The court further instructed that genetic testing be put on hold until a further decision is made.

Theoretically, the results of the testing could result in the removal of the baby, identified in media only as Sophia, from the custody of the woman who gave birth to her, and her partner.

The couple is raising the child and has vowed to fight any attempt to remove the infant from their custody.

Earlier this month the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court ruled that five likely couples can be initially genetically tested, with a sixth to be sampled if the others show up negative. But the couple raising Sophia, whom testing has shown have no genetic tie to the girl, appealed the decision and the court ordered an initial delay in further sampling.

Both sides in the dispute agreed Sunday that the case would return to the family court for further deliberation, where Assuta Medical Center of Rishon Lezion will present paperwork about the six couples seeking genetic testing, as well as information on the couple raising her, Hebrew media reported.

Testing will not be conducted before the court hearings conclude.

The six couples are among 22 who were identified by Assuta, where the IVF error was made, as having the greatest chance of being the genetic parents of the girl.

The couples had turned to the courts for permission to undergo testing after the Health Ministry halted its own efforts to trace the biological parents.

The baby girl was born in late October, shortly after revelations of the mix-up sparked a national firestorm.

Earlier this month, the couple raising Sophia filed a lawsuit against Assuta for NIS 10 million ($2.9 million) over the mishap.

The Health Ministry initially sought to find the child’s biological parents, but after one couple singled out as the most likely parents was ruled out by tests, officials had announced late last month that they would halt the search.

The Health Ministry considered shuttering the IVF unit at Assuta following the error but eventually decided not to do so. However, it demanded that the department trim its operations by 50 percent — from 10,000 fertilization treatments a year to 5,000.

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