Couple Sues Fertility Doctor Over Alleged Forced Abortion

Dr.Rifaat Salem

A Southern California couple trying for a fourth child began working with fertility specialist Dr. Rifaat Salem in December 2013.

Melissa Pineda was implanted with a set of fertilized embryos, but, as KTLA reports, she was urgently called back in two days later.

The Pinedas had no inklings of any sort of mix-up until they arrived at the office. There, a nurse revealed that, the previous day, she found all 14 of Melissa’s eggs still in a petri dish and realized that someone else’s embryos had been implanted.

When Salem came to check on Melissa, he never mentioned the mix-up. Instead, Melissa claims, he preformed a forced abortion.

Melissa believes that she underwent first a curettage (scraping of the cervix) and was then injected with methotrexate (a chemical abortion drug) the next day. 

When it became clear what had happened, the Pinedas hired malpractice lawyer Neil Howard. Howard says that it is illegal to preform any procedure on a patient without their consent and that Melissa would have never agreed to an abortion. 

In a deposition, one of Salem’s nurses claimed that Melissa did sign a consent form, though after the procedure was finished.

Salem maintains that consent was given for the procedure.

The Pinedas’ case will go to trail in August of 2016.

This is not the first malpractice suit for Salem. In 2009, a Chatsworth couple sued him and the Pacific Reproduction Center for medical fraud.

Abeer Said was diagnosed by a urologist with germinal cell aplasia, a condition that renders him incapable of producing the type of sperm cells needed to impregnate an egg.

As the law offices of William H Newkirk report, Said and his wife then went to Salem, who offered hope to the Saids despite the diagnosis.

After spending tens-of-thousands of dollars and undergoing multiple rounds of painful procedures – at one point involving a claimed Chinese embryologist who, in fact, was a Canadian veterinarian -- it became clear that the Saids were unable to produce an embryo.

The fraud was revealed to the Saids five years later by a separate doctor, and the Saids filed suit. 

Sources: KTLA, Law Offices of William H. Newkirk / Photo credit: Daily Mail

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