Surrogate or Parents-to-be: Who Gets to Decide?Madeline Holler
Surrogacy is a thorny issue, period.
When more than two people are involved in making a baby, questions about who gets to decide what — and who, ultimately, the fetus-then-baby belong to — have been a cloud lingering over the whole process since it first began.
There are surrogate moms who, after nine months of gestation, decide they want to raise the baby. There are women and men who hire surrogates but later decide that, never mind, one or the other or both don’t want the kid after all.
A now there’s this: a couple who wants to terminate a pregnancy and a surrogate who doesn’t.
When a couple in British Columbia learned through prenatal tests that their baby would likely be born with Down syndrome, they decided to terminate. Problem was, they weren’t the pregnant ones — their surrogate was. She was determined to see the pregnancy through.
Per their agreement, the couple would be absolved of any responsibility, which sounds pretty cut-and-dried. They all agreed to the contract. Only some aren’t so sure. Were the agreement to be contested, a judge could go to family law and require that the biological parents support the child financially.
In some U.S. districts, a couple can sue their surrogate and get their money back if the surrogate changes her mind and decides on a course not in line with the original agreement.
The National Post, which reported on a conference where this Down syndrome case was brought up, lists some of the other anticipated outcomes of children born of surrogate mothers in Canada — at least three of whom are raising the children they thought would be handed over to the couple who commissioned the pregnancy.
The surrogate carrying the fetus with Down syndrome eventually honored her contract and went through the the abortion. She’s a mother of two children and cited her own family responsibilities.
This situation brings up good questions about surrogacy, the lack of regulation and who, ultimately, is responsible. When you turn your body over in service to another couple, where do your rights end and someone else’s begin?
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