Supreme Court rules no genetic tests to find origin of wrongly implanted embryo

Justices side with couple raising child, overturning lower court’s decision to allow testing to go ahead; parents hail ‘miracle’ ruling

Illustrative: An in vitro fertilization embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic in London, August 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)
Illustrative: An in vitro fertilization embryologist works on a petri dish at a fertility clinic in London, August 14, 2013. (AP Photo/Sang Tan)

The Supreme Court on Monday decided to not allow genetic testing to go ahead for six couples to determine if they were the biological parents of a baby born after an embryo was mistakenly implanted in the wrong woman.

The 2-1 decision overturned a previous ruling by the Lod District Court in January, which ordered that tests go ahead after the birth of the baby, identified as Sophia by media outlets.

According to the ruling, justices determined that there was very little chance that the six couples are the biological parents of the child, and that the birth mother and her husband’s legal claim over the child was stronger.

Theoretically, the results of testing could result in the removal of the baby from the couple who are raising the child. They have vowed to fight any attempt to remove the infant from their custody.

Sophia’s father told the Walla news site that the ruling was a “miracle,” adding: “We received Sophia as a gift today once again.”

The couple’s lawyer praised the court’s “brave decision.”

Illustrative image: a single sperm is injected directly into an egg as part of IVF (Lars Neumann via iStock by Getty Images)

The six couples are among 22 who were identified by the Assuta hospital, 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 national media sensation.

In December, 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 announced in November 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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