A New York lesbian couple is suing a fertility clinic after receiving a male embryo instead of a female embryo, likening the incident to rape.
Heather Wilhelm-Routenberg and her wife Robin Routenberg-Wilhelm were reportedly assured by a fertility clinic in upstate New York that lab specialists could guarantee their child would be a girl, according to the New York Post.
But when Heather visited the doctor for her 15-week appointment, the couple was stunned: Heather was pregnant with a boy.
Their son was born in December 2020. Now, more than one year later, the couple is suing the CNY fertility clinic on 11 counts, including medical malpractice, breach of contract, and even battery.
What did the women say?
Heather told the Post that she "flipped out" when she learned she was pregnant with a boy because she felt like her body "was taken hostage." Heather claimed that "he was put there against my will, just like rape."
After learning their child was a boy, the fertility clinic engaged in a 7-week investigation to determine how the couple ended up with a boy. The couple was convinced the clinic had implanted someone else's baby. Heather admitted that during the course of the investigation, she had "no connection to the baby inside," and she "tried not to think about being pregnant."
"Seven weeks later we got an email that this was our embryo. It was indeed male and it was indeed related to Robbie. No one else had our baby: There was no female baby coming," Heather said, the Post reported. "I was so furious. It felt like a deep betrayal. How the f*** do you mess up that bad?"
Both women said they could not connect to the baby during the entire pregnancy.
After the baby boy was born, Heather said she could not bear touching him because it "sent electric shockwaves through me." She said she also experienced "extreme anxiety" because when she looked at her son, he would "contort into the faces of all these grown men that I know." She said she experienced "complex postpartum depression," including "several incidences of suicidal ideation."
Now, the couple declares they love their son. But they are suing the clinic because they claimed the fertility clinic, by implanting a male embryo in Heather, robbed their son of an emotional connection with his mother.
"We think our son deserved that bond from the start," Heather said.
Why did they not want a boy?
The couple told the New York Post they did not want a son because Heather experienced sexual assault when she was younger, and because of gruff male stereotypes.
"We didn’t want to have a boy because of the assaults and because of the socialization of boys — there’s constant socialization 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," Heather told the Post.
Robin agreed, "It’s not only about the in-utero and birth experience, it’s about the socialization that a boy has in the world — even while we fight against these social norms, this repeated narrative of forced masculinity — and we did not sign up for that."