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When the first letter from Women & Infants Hospital arrived in the mail in July 2017, Elaine Meyer thought perhaps it was a fund-raising solicitation or clerical error. The letter, which included a billing invoice, addressed her as “Dear Patient,” but she had not been a patient at the hospital for nearly two decades. That’s when she and her husband, Barry Prizant, had completed their infertility treatment there.

After three miscarriages, they had gone through several rounds of IVF at Women & Infants in Providence, R.I., near their home in Cranston, resulting in the creation of at least 18 test-tube embryos. One of those had become their son, Noah, born in December of 1996, and along with joy there had been a lot of mourning and reckoning with the reality that this would be the sole realization of their efforts.

Dr. Meyer mentioned the letter to her husband and stashed it in a filing cabinet of her home office.

But then another came the next month. “If you would like WIH to continue to store your embryos/oocytes,” the letter said... see more