A lesbian woman in Australia is suing her doctor after she gave birth to twins through in-vitro fertilization (IVF).
The 40-year-old woman, who cannot be identified because of a court order, had testified in the Supreme Court of the Australian Capital Territory on Tuesday that she told her doctor, obstetrician Robert Armellin, that she only wanted one child.
But a lawyer for Armellin said Thursday the woman only said she wanted a single embryo implanted minutes before the procedure, when she was already in the operating room and after she had signed a form indicating that up to two embryos could be transferred.
And because the staff did not follow up on the last-minute request, an embryologist under the doctor's supervision implanted two embryos in her uterus, resulting in the birth of non-identical twin girls.
The woman told the court that she and her female partner were devastated when they learned she was carrying twins. They even considered putting one of the babies up for adoption.
Although the couple together makes over $82,875, the woman is seeking $329,000 to cover the expense of raising one child until age 21.
The civil case, the first of its kind in Australia, has prompted debate about the value of children and role of parents.
"The litigation involving twins already three years old undermines the importance of parenthood," conservative government Senator Guy Barnett said on Thursday, according to Reuters.
"We seem more intent on preserving and pandering to the wishes of adults, than we are in protecting the rights of children," he added.
Barnett has called for the banning of same-sex couples and unmarried women from access to publicly-funded IVF services, sparking a new moral debate ahead of national elections, due at any time.
Speaking as a parent of twin children, Lyle Shelton, the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL)'s national chief-of-staff, says that even though the birth of an extra child has brought extra cost to his family, it nevertheless was a blessing from God.
Giving his personal account, Shelton recalled the tremendous joy he and his wife felt in having one more child, though it was unplanned and despite having two young children at that time.
"When I found out I got an extra child … it was a blessing," Shelton said. "Yes, there were additional expenses and work but the fact was I still love the extra child.
"I think this is the way most parents will view the situation," he continued, "and the approach of this lesbian couple is in stark contrast to the way most normal families will view the situation."
According to Shelton, there were two major problems in this case. First is asserting that parenting right should be given to homosexual couples, as the ACL believes the fundamental right of the child should trump that of the couple.
Society should not facilitate this type of family situation of denying a mother and a father to the child, he said.
The second problem, Shelton said, is the damage that may come to the child of the lesbian couple, who will realize that she was unwanted and seen as a burden to both her "mothers" – a burden that needs to be compensated for.
This was absolutely abhorrent, Shelton said, noting that the child would inevitably find out she was a "disappointment" as she grew up.
The lesbian couple is seeking more than $300,000 in compensation from the doctor who had performed their IVF treatment, suing for the "wrongful birth of a child."
Furthermore, the mother's partner said their relationship is now in jeopardy because the mother no longer has the same ability to love her as she used to, Australia's National Nine News reported. The birth of the second child allegedly had a negative effect on the mother's ability to love.
"She always said that she had a big heart filled with love," the mother's partner said of her before the Supreme Court Wednesday, according to Australia-based The Age. "I find [now] that she doesn't have the same ability to love that she used to and the same capacity to, I guess, embrace differences and issues as a couple or as a team."
And although the couple is undergoing relationship counseling, the partner said it did not feel that the relationship would survive, National Nine reported.
The woman also said that her partner had felt angry and desperate once she knew she was carrying twins and that she had hoped one embryo would just go away.
Christian Post correspondent Sze Leng Chan in Canberra, Australia, contributed to this report.