Could Someone Else Abort Your Baby?

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Shutterstock

This story of a surrogate mother’s refusal to get an abortion at the couple’s behest has been fascinating me all morning and I wanted to talk to other people about it so I’m going to try to explain my thoughts on it and why it’s captivated me so.

Basically, this couple wants to have a child and so they hire a surrogate to have their egg and sperm implanted into her womb. They pay her each month and are very excited for their child. In the fifth month, during an ultrasound, they find out that the baby will have a cleft lip and palate, heart problems and other special needs. The doctors give the baby a 25 percent chance of having a “normal life.” The parents are distraught. They have three other kids and they don’t think they can care for a special needs baby. They ask the surrogate to abort the baby.

But! Not so fast! The surrogate is uncomfortable with abortion. The couple offered her $10,000 to abort the baby. The surrogate refused. She thought the life deserved a chance. But she also had kids of her own and bills to pay so she sought an adoptive couple for the child. (However, the baby was still legally and genetically the couple’s. See where this is fascinatingly confusing?)

So she found a woman with experience raising special needs children and she and her husband agreed to adopt the baby. Then, the baby is born, right? And it turns out the first couple wants to be listed on the birth certificate as the baby’s parents. Plot twist: the first mother isn’t even the baby’s biological mom. The couple had used an egg donor. So this baby right how has six parents. SIX. Kind of.

It ended up that the surrogate’s name went on the birth certificate, the father’s name was left blank and the first couple agreed to give up their parental rights. The baby went to the adoptive parents that the surrogate found. Whew.

As expected, the baby has a slew of medical problems. She can’t walk, talk or use her hands properly and she’s fed with a tube. In the original CNN article, the reporter says some people question why a baby “born to suffer” should be brought into this world when such suffering could have been prevented by an abortion. The girl’s adoptive parents told CNN they are excited to see what she is ultimately capable of achieving.

The surrogate, meanwhile, has faced all kinds of criticism because she “absconded” with a baby that wasn’t hers, made decisions for a baby that wasn’t hers, and brought a child into the world who will “never live a normal life.” Anti-abortion advocates have called her a “savior.”

Until reading this article, I’d never considered what would happen if the parents wanted a surrogate to abort a pregnancy. Or man, what if a surrogate just went and got an abortion. Is there anything the parents could do? Probably sue for intense emotional damage. It’s a fine line of whose baby is this, though I think it ultimately is the original couple’s baby. While I don’t think the surrogate in this case is “the devil” or a terrible person, I will side with the parents here. That is their baby. Not yours. They have the legal right to obtain an abortion for that baby, having weighed all the options for the child’s post-birth care (which would have been expensive and life-long. Plus, I understand the hesitation to bring a baby into the world who will be in pain every single day of their life. I’d feel terribly guilty.)

It’s so complicated. I mean, when you sign on to be a surrogate, you are just a vessel. That is not your baby. You can’t really be making decisions for it. You are being paid by the baby’s parents. They are in charge. So I think she should have respected their wishes and terminated the pregnancy — like any other job, they no longer required her services. But I can also see the argument for “saving a life,” which is what this surrogate thought she was doing. Plus, how much of the surrogate’s body do the parents own? She agreed to have a baby for them, not to undergo a totally different medical procedure that she may or may not have moral issues with. What are they paying for exactly? She’s still a person.

I don’t know. I’ve been thinking about this all morning. When I see the pictures of the little child, I obviously don’t wish it were dead. But I do feel badly for the parents who were so excited to have a new baby and then had to mourn the life they’d dream for that kid and then were TERRIFIED that someone else could make a decision regarding a life they created. I would feel so violated by this surrogate who I’d entered into a contract with and presumably trusted with my precious belonging. Out there in the world, whether I wanted it or not, without my control, would be a suffering little baby that I made. I’d be very scared and uncomfortable. In the end, I side with the original parents, though I’m glad everything seemingly worked out.

It’s a tough one, right? Do you agree with me? Is there something I’m not considering? Can a surrogate refuse to have an abortion? Shouldn’t you probably get all that in writing before you implant a baby in someone? Oof. TC Mark

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