On March 6, 2013 the Senior Medical Correspondent from CNN published an article titled Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby. After reading the story of "Baby S" I found myself thinking back to simpler times and the story of "Baby M".
Remember the "Baby M" case? This 1986 custody case was the first ruling on the validity of surrogacy. In it the surrogate decided to keep the child and the couple who had hired her sued to be recognized as the child's legal parents.
Related Article: In the Matter of Baby M: 1988
This sensational story became an ABC Network mini-series titled "Baby M", and was broadcast in May 1988. The mini-series went on to received seven Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Miniseries. Then in 1989 Mary Beth Whitehead, the surrogate, published a book about her experiences titled, "A Mother's Story: The Truth About the Baby M Case".
Yet, as heart wrenching, shocking and dramatic as the "Baby M" case seemed during the 1980s, it now seems almost simplistic compared to the story of "Baby S", whose sad tale revisits the questions about surrogacy, as it raises some questions about a woman right to choose - like whose "choice" is it? Baby S' story intermingles surrogacy and "choice" with quality of life issues and the monitory costs involved in rising a child with so many disabilities.
This sad tale begins with a Connecticut married couple who, not content with the three children they already have, "desperately" want a fourth (which the mother can't carry and, as we'll find in the end apparently didn't even have an egg for). This couple hire a surrogate for $22,000 to have the baby for them. Deal done, sounds simple enough, right? Well, It would be if that were the end of the story. But it's not.
When it's discovered, during a routine ultra sound, that the baby has severe fetus abnormalities, the parents, unwilling to deal with a defective child, offer the surrogate $10,000 to abort. The surrogate turns the $10,000 down and counters with $15,000. The parents, refusing to be blackmailed, then hire a lawyer who sues the surrogate for breach of contract. The surrogate continues to refuse aborting the fetus.
Finally, when it is too late for a legal abortion, the baby's parents sue the surrogate for custody of their own child. Their plan was to surrender the baby at birth to the state of Connecticut. The surrogate can't stand the thought of the baby being in foster care, does some research and even though she's pregnant, has no job and two other mouths to feed, flees to Michigan.
Once in Michigan she's considered the legal mother and therefore allowed to make decisions in regards to the baby. So what decision does she make? Well, the surrogate mother gives the baby up for adoption.
Though I'm sure there are many surrogate births that turn out well, it seems that surrogacy always has and always will present challenges both to the parents of the child, the surrogate who carries and gives birth to the child and eventually to the child who had no "choice" in any of this.
And it's likely that this surrogate is already in negotiations for the rights to her story.