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Woman wrongly listed as a child's mother following IVF

26 September 2016
Appeared in BioNews 870

An Australian woman has been wrongly listed as the biological mother of a child born following IVF treatment.

The Herald Sun reports that Debbie Haigh was contacted by Victoria's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages, which told her that she was included on its registration of birth database as the woman receiving treatment and the mother of a one-year-old child, whom she had never met.

The partner was listed as another woman who is in a same-sex relationship and had received treatment at the same clinic as Haigh. Both women had also given birth at the same hospital, but two years' apart.

The Department of Justice and Regulation said that mistake was the result of human error in matching certificates at the registry.  

Haigh has now called for an investigation into the birth records of all donor-conceived children in the state. 'An investigation has to happen,' she said. 'Information like this, especially when it comes out 18 years later, can destroy families; it can destroy relationships.'

In its letter, the registry informed Haigh that if the child contacted it in the future he would be told that he was donor-conceived. Haigh said she understood the distress that incorrect information could cause. 'How are these children supposed to find out their genetic history?' she said.

Melbourne IVF, the clinic where the women received treatment and which had reportedly supplied the birth information to the registry, said it could not comment on the case because of patient confidentiality.

A spokesperson for the Department of Justice and Regulation told the Herald Sun: 'While we have a number of processes in place to reduce the risk of mistakes, unfortunately sometimes errors do occur'.

On Monday 17 October 2016, the Progress Educational Trust is holding a free-to-attend evening event in London - entitled 'Birth Certificates and Assisted Reproduction: Setting the Record Straight?' - about the purpose and content of birth certificates in light of developments in science, medicine, law and society.

Click here for further details, and email to book your free place.

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