Lesbian couple who asked for female embryo sues IVF clinic after having a baby boy
A lesbian couple are suing their New York IVF clinic after they asked for a female embryo but wound up having a baby boy.
According to the New York Post, Heather Wilhelm-Routenberg and her wife Robin (Robbie) Routenberg-Wilhelm wanted a girl, as Heather had been traumatised “from being sexually assaulted on two different occasions”.
Heather told the newspaper: “We didn’t want to have a boy because of the assaults and because of the socialisation of boys – there’s constant socialisation of what it means to be a ‘real man.’
“People say, ‘Oh, he’s a boy, let him hit you,’ and all the camouflage and guns don’t help. It reinforces masculinity, and that’s a reminder of the assaults every time.”
The couple claimed that CNY Fertility Center in Latham, New York, said it was not a problem to determine the baby’s sex before the embryo was transferred into Heather, however the couple found that they would have a boy when Heather was 15 weeks pregnant.
Heather and Robbie are now suing CNY on 11 counts including breach of contract, medical malpractice and battery.
“After we found out I was carrying a boy, the internal investigation to determine whose embryo it was took seven weeks. I was convinced the whole time it wasn’t ours because the clinic knew not to transfer a male: It wasn’t a preference, it was a need,” Heather explained.
“During that time, I had no connection to the baby inside – I figured I would be giving it away to its real parents. I tried not to think about being pregnant…
“I was so furious. It felt like a deep betrayal. How the f**k do you mess up that bad? They messed up something so integral; the fact that there are no legal requirements about these procedures should strike fear in the hearts of all parents using fertility services.”
The couple’s son was born in December 2020, with Heather experiencing post-natal depression after his birth.
Heather said: “The baby is a year and a half now and I think about the mistake all the time. He’s a lovely kid. He smiles just like Robbie, he has Robbie’s dimples, and that makes it easier. Our son is made of magic. He does things to be funny – he’ll use certain tones of voice and laughs to make us crack up. He’s hilarious and he’s been an easy baby.
“When it’s just us, it’s amazing! but when we’re out in the world, he’s a symbol of something, being socialised as the same people who did bad stuff to me.
“He’s an innocent being, he didn’t deserve any of this. The clinic messed with something so integral: our baby’s first formative years.”
In the UK, a lesbian couple have sued the NHS, accusing the fertility sector in England of barring same-sex couples from starting a family based on wealth.
Social media influencers Megan Bacon-Evans, 34, and her wife Whitney, 33, said they have to pay tens of thousands of pounds to become eligible for NHS-funded in vitro fertilisation (IVF), unlike mixed-sex couples.
NHS Frimley CCG, according to The Guardian, asks female same-sex couples and single people with wombs to pay 12 intrauterine insemination or rounds of IVF treatments to “prove” their medical fertility before becoming eligible to receive subsisted help on the NHS.
Cisgender mixed-gender couples, meanwhile, must only have tried to conceive for two years before receiving NHS funding.
“We’re doing this for every LGBT+ couple who had to give up on their hopes and dreams of creating a family,” said Bacon-Evans in a statement to The Guardian. “It’s time for discrimination to end and for there to be equal treatment with heterosexual couples in the healthcare system.”