Surrogate chooses not to have an abortion, but why go public about it?

The story of the surrogate offered $10,000 to have an abortion by the couple who were paying her to carry their pregnancy has been making the rounds. If you don’t know the details, let me catch you up…

  • Woman hired to be a surrogate for the fee of $22,000
  • Couple who are paying have 3 children, but had a lot of pregnancy complications. Two children spend months in the hospital due to prematurity complications.
  • The embryo is conceived from a donor egg and the husband’s sperm.
  • At the anatomy ultrasound scan severe anomalies (birth defects) are detected. Further testing indicates severe birth defects including cardiac. Chance of neurologically intact survival low (baby has holoprosencephaly, a very serious and unfortunate birth defect of the brain).
  • The couple paying the surrogate wants an abortion. They offer $10,000.
  • The surrogate says no, hesitates and counters with $15,000, but then says no.
  • Decides to have the baby and make arrangements for adoption, care afterwards etc.

Highly complicated emotionally and legally to say the least. Surrogacy laws apparently are different state to state and adding donor egg into the mix makes it even harder. Honestly, I can see all sides of this story.

I can understand wanting another baby, but not trusting your body to be pregnant again after having two children who spent months in the NICU (boy can I understand that one).

I can understand not wanting to have a baby with severe birth defects. That is choice.

I can understand offering to pay the surrogate for the termination. A 2nd trimester termination is a surgical procedure and just as she would be compensated for a term pregnancy (which has risks), so she should be compensated for a termination.

I can understand the surrogate countering and asking for more money. Surrogacy is a business.

Parents who opt for surrogacy must discuss abortion (among other things) with their surrogate. Choice is choice and a surrogate isn’t a slave, so no one can make her do anything. What if she’s breech and doesn’t want a c-section? What if she had a previous c-section, but really wants a VBAC (vaginal birth after cesarean). What if the fetus has severe birth defects and the surrogate doesn’t want an abortion? These things need to be hammered out before and even then, with a like-minded surrogate and an agreement in hand, prospective parents will still never be in total control. They can’t be, because it’s not their body. That’s one of the risks of surrogacy. That is choice. A woman decides what happens to her own body. The news stories don’t tell us if abortion was discussed beforehand.

What I don’t understand is why the surrogate went public? What is to gain by hashing this wrenching, personal drama through the reality news cycle? Especially as the family who paid her to be a surrogate have stayed quiet. Does the surrogate want accolades for going through with the pregnancy? Money for herself? Another surrogacy contract? A book deal? Attention for her blog? Maybe she was goaded by a reporter looking for an amazing headline? Or perhaps this is an attempt to raise awareness of the perils of surrogacy (a worthy goal)? Perhaps she wants to raise money for the baby as the medical expenses will be horrific?

It may be all of these or none of the above. Although, reading through her blog I can’t help but think that advancing her pro-life agenda is part of it (she writes, “anyone who knows me knows that I am pro-life”), but ironically for me the crux of this story is choice.

Choice means that no woman is forced to carry a baby to term or forced to have abortion.

Choice is the ability to be on contraception or not.

And then there is the choice to hire a surrogate or not and the choice to be a surrogate or not.

This surrogate was lucky she had choices. Not all women do.




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  1. The news stories don’t tell us if abortion was discussed beforehand.

    It was. She signed a surrogacy contract saying that if the foetus presented with severe defects (like this one, with severe cardiopulmonary, digestive, neurological and maxillofacial issues) that she would have a termination.

    She signed that contract intending to never honour it should problems arise. She said “Why should I play god?” while referring to a foetus created by causing hyperovulation in a stranger, mixing ova and semen to create embryos, one of which was frozen, thawed, then placed into her uterus by fertility experts so that she could carry it for another woman. The irony is so devastating that irony was killed outright.

    She says she was the child’s “mother” and wanted the best for her, but apparently not the existinp children who, despite already living pretty grim lives (she claims that it was due to poverty), were then spirited away from the only world they’d ever known to go halfway across the US to a state where surrogacy is illegal.

    Every single word is typical anti-choice crap, right down to valuing foetuses over existing children.

    It’s disgusting. I’m so glad that hiring a uterus is illegal here. You can have a surrogate, but not for money, and not until you’ve passed the rigorous checks that are carried out if you want to adopt any other baby borne by someone else. The surrogate mother and one of the adoptive parents must sign the birth cert. (usually the prospective mother), then eventually the surrogate formally surrenders the child, and the other prospective parent adopts it, like a stepparent would.

    Same goes for international adoption. There’s no going abroad and “buying” a baby. You have to be assessed and approved for adoption, whicp can take years sometimes. if you go abroad and get a baby you have to apply to the British Consulate in that country for a visa. The consulate checks that you’ve been legally cleared to adopt, again, this can sometimes take a couple of months. After the visa is granted you take the child to the Embassy for a passport, and only then can you return home with the child.

    All of this cuts down on the exploitative nonsense in the US, typically orchestrated by christian adoption providers, who make huge amounts of money on being international (and domestic, let’s face it) baby-brokers. That’s why a lot of them are so desperately anti-abortion, because it would dry up a revenue stream fed by poverty and induced guilt and shame.

  2. The surrogate was represented by prominent pro-life attorney Michael DePrimo, formerly of the American Family Association. That’s where I’m betting the publicity drive is coming from.

  3. The CNN story makes it appear that the couple that hired the surrogate lawyered up and played a bit of hard ball with an economically disadvantaged (as it typical) surrogate. This caused her to flee to MI where the child could receive better medical care, and where the surrogate (who apparently received $8,000 of the $22,000) could control the destiny of the child. The CT “parents” – actually it was a donor egg so only the father was bio to the child were going to demand custody only to abandon the child to CT.

    So, it could be said that the bullying of a pregnant, economically vulnerable woman led someone to alert CNN, who elected to run with it; somewhat leveling the playing field. In any event, once you enter into litigation it becomes a public matter and the CT based parent(s) who first desired termination and later abandonment have a hand in the publicity. The surrogate has about the worst blog ever and seeming has little to gain from the publicity.

    But there is an important discussion to be hand – 4 people has some kind of relation to the kid – the egg donor, the wife of the bio father, the bio father & the surrogate. For good measure, you can throw in the adoptive parents making it a total of 4 moms and two dads of one sort or another – one strange family dynamic. The very definition of the most common words of humanity (like mom and dad) now need substantial qualifiers.

    This will become more and more common because if you purchase a good or service valued at or above $50,000 it is common to demand perfection and reject anything less. In western culture, gestation services and children are in a real sense a purchase for many well intended people of substantial means and good will. Commonly when a defect is noted, the product is rejected. Those who deal with high-value products know this lesson well.

  4. I couldn’t agree more –I suppose it’s the more than 20 years nursing practice in high-risk L&D. Some things can be kept private – they don’t have to be posted on the Internet!

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