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The GEM Debate: Is It Ever Okay For A Surrogate To Refuse THIS?

Creative Commons/storyvillegirl

Creative Commons/storyvillegirl

The GEM Debate:
Is It Ever Okay For A Surrogate To Refuse THIS?

Wow, talk about your parenting paradox.

An unnamed couple asked Crystal Kelley to carry their child.  Tests later revealed the five-month-old fetus was missing a stomach, spleen and had a cyst on its brain; and that’s not even the complete list of medical issues. Doctors said the baby would have a 25 percent chance at a normal life.  Armed with this information the biological parents wanted to terminate the pregnancy, but Kelley refused.

Of course, you have the pro-choice side of this debate. I’m not really going to touch that, but feel free to discuss in comments. My question, having given some thought to being a surrogate myself, is should biological parents be more cognizant of pairing up with someone who shares their beliefs on abortion or emergency procedures before any contracts are signed?  If this couple had had an agreement pertaining to abortion prior to implantation, this probably wouldn’t have made the news. Their like-minded surrogate would have understood the complications for the baby and terminated the pregnancy.

The couple also has other children with health issues so they should have been prepared for medical complications even though they may have hoped things would be different this time.

Surrogates are doing something pretty special for a family, but I feel they need to be sensitive to all that can happen in a pregnancy and be able to follow the biological parents’ wishes on terminating for medical reasons just as they would if something were to go wrong in the delivery room.

Kelley ultimately moved to a state where surrogacy contracts aren’t honored and gave birth. Unable to care for the baby, she gave it up for adoption.  Now the poor biological parents have a child out there with severe problems that they may or may not be able to contact.

So here are the questions: Did Kelley do the right thing? Should factors like abortion and the health of a baby be factored in in surrogacy contracts? Does this open a whole can or worms with biological parents being able to demand abortions of their surrogates whether medically necessary?

More from GEM:

Paying It Forward: Dr. Harold P. Freeman And The Patient Navigation Program

Survivor Stories: Thank You!

The GEM Debate: Sent Home For SUSPICION Of Pregnancy? REALLY?







  1. Christina Gleason @ WELL, in THIS House

    March 6, 2013 at 11:07 am

    That is one tricky situation. Because of the particular medical issues this poor baby was suffering from, I don’t personally feel it was fair for the surrogate to do what she did. That child will probably suffer terribly every single day of his or her life, requiring thousands (millions?) of dollars of special care just to survive, let alone thrive.

    I think this highlights the importance, as you mentioned, of discussing the all possibilities before going into a surrogacy contract so that all parties involved are on the same page.

    I don’t think there was any “right” answer in this case. The best anyone could have hoped for was that there would have been no disagreement when the test results came back.

  2. Ella Rucker

    March 6, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Christina, you are 100% right. Very tricky. I feel for both sides. Thanks for your feedback.

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