When handling frozen embryos, as previously discussed, there is a specific duty of care owed by the hospital to the parents to maintain the embryos properly and sufficiently so as to preserve them from harm and maintain them for usage by the donor couple. In Louisiana, lawyers have been filing lawsuits regarding a mixup at Ochsner Hospital Elmwood in which a mislabeling matter led to what may end up being a complete disposal of a number of embryos because of a lack of screening that also occurred.
ABC recently profiled a series of mishaps, including that in Louisiana, occurring in the world of in vitro fertilization. With loose regulations, there is a huge possibility of error, as is the case here.
Louisiana law clearly stipulate facets involved in the adoption or change of possession regarding frozen embryos. It does this to try to protect families from the improper transfer of an embryo to another individual, among other reasons. The law states
La. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 9:130 An in vitro fertilized human ovum is a juridical person which cannot be owned by the in vitro fertilization patients who owe it a high duty of care and prudent administration. If the in vitro fertilization patients renounce, by notarial act, their parental rights for in utero implantation, then the in vitro fertilized human ovum shall be available for adoptive implantation in accordance with written procedures of the facility where it is housed or stored. The in vitro fertilization patients may renounce their parental rights in favor of another married couple, but only if the other couple is willing and able to receive the in vitro fertilized ovum. No compensation shall be paid or received by either couple to renounce parental rights. Constructive fulfillment of the statutory provisions for adoption in this state shall occur when a married couple executes a notarial act of adoption of the in vitro fertilized ovum and birth occurs.
In this way, the law hopes to prevent the malicious transfer of frozen embryos to a woman other than the donor. However, recent events have proven the transfer can occur outside of intent and that an escalation of regulation may be required to prevent such tragedies from occurring down the road.