The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet

I want to hear the ethical analysis of this messy situation from abortion advocates/apologists/activists/feminists. In fact, I can hardly wait.

Melissa Cook is a surrogate mother whom a man paid $33,000 to have  his child by in vitro fertilization, using his sperm and the eggs of a 20-year-old donor. The 47-year-old California woman was implanted with three embryos, a not infrequent approach, but when all three developed normally and apparently healthily,  the birth father began to freak out. He didn’t want three kids, only two at most, and directed Cook to have one aborted. When she refused, he began threatening her  with threats of financial penalties if she did not comply with his demands that she undergo a one-third abortion.

Now a lawsuit has been filed by Cook’s lawyers challenging the surrogacy contract with the biological father, and the California law that supports it. I’ll let the courts hash that one out. What I’m interested in is this: what is being argued about here? Is that newly spawned triplet a baby, as the gestating-by-contact mother claims? Is it just a potential, wart-like annoyance as the birth father says? Who should have the right to kill it? Cook’s not entirely a mother, is she? Could she choose to abort the triplet, or all of them? I’m guessing not, even though it is “her body.” Still, as long as the triplets are part of her body, they have only the status of leeches or tumors, right? That’s what I get from the rhetoric of the Planned Parenthood execs; I mean, I could be wrong.

So if the fact that it’s her body having to nurture the trio of tiny parasites doesn’t give her the right to kill them, why would she have the right not to kill them, since her womb is now the equivalent of a rented, furnished apartment? Then again, surely we can’t have a man forcing a woman to have an abortion since…well, it isn’t her body, exactly is it? Not the baby-making part anyway–he contracted to have control of that part. She made a deal, fair and square, signed and sealed. Right?

I’m so confused. I’m sure, though, a well-versed abortion-on-demand advocate can explain it all to me.

How relatively easy it would be if we only had some basic ethical principles involved, rather than constantlymanipulated legal concepts. Principles like…

  • Regardless of contracts, an embryo belongs to the woman gestating it, and nobody else but she can decide how to treat it, until it is old enough to be protected by the law, and born.
  • Nobody can make a woman have an abortion. Pressuring a woman to have one using tangible threats of any kind is unethical.
  • A woman who chooses to keep a baby put there by someone else is liable for the fee and the cost incurred by the foiled parents, but no other penalties will attach.
  • Aborting a fetus for no good reason other than the fact that a parent doesn’t want to care for the child is unethical. Such children should be made available to couples who want an infant and can’t have one on their own.
  • Surrogacy is not inherently unethical, but buyer beware.

Applying these few principles makes this tailor-made-for-a-Lifetime Movie-starring-Jodie Davis mess an easy call. Dad has to shut up and pay up. He gets all three kids, if he wants them. He has to take two of the three—maybe he should decide which ones are cutest. The third belongs to the birth mother, or, if she doesn’t want it, is offered for adoption.

And that lucky triplet who didn’t get aborted?

Why, she grows up and cures cancer, of course.


Pointer: ReNae Bowling

Source: CNS

60 thoughts on “The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet

      • I had to look those up. Well, I would do my darnedest to try to bring all to live birth, my thought being that, as you say, someone (someone fit, of course) will want the one(s) the natural parents don’t.

  1. The father of these three kids gets my award of unethical narcissistic parent of the year. Too bad his parents didn’t use prophylactics and never had him.

  2. Surogacy, in vitro fertilization. No problem. I say, “Ick.” But nice job of working through to a reasonable suggested solution. Keep all the babies alive. Someone will want them.

  3. Her body, her choice. I think she can be sued for breach of contract, if indeed that is what happened, but that’s about it.

    FYI, the recommendation is to abort (at least) one fetus in a triplet pregnancy. The chances of miscarriage and losing all of the fetuses go way up with more than two fetuses, as well as very premature births, with it’s attendant chances of severe neurological and physical deficits. It’s basically rolling the dice either which way, and a very hard decision. Which is why most responsible clinics have stopped implanting more than two fetuses at a time. The outcomes from higher order multiple births tend to be rather grim, sunshine-y stories in the media notwithstanding.

    • I have to give deery that (I’m sorry, he or she?) is absolutely consistent. The line “The chances of miscarriage and losing all of the fetuses go way up with more than two fetuses, as well as very premature births {…}” is so cringe-worthy I have an ache from my spine trying to blow through my stomach. She isn’t pregnant with babies, she’s carrying fetuseseses. I get it. Your ideology requires you to think that way. But when you have to twist language into pretzels to avoid wrongthink, you’re doing it wrong. Miscarried children are a tragedy, not a science experiment.

    • I’m glad I never had to make that decision. Doctors are pretty sure that I lost a twin (naturally) in the first trimester and it was an awful, emotional experience for me. What if I had been told that I needed to abort one in order to save the other? Ack. Sophie’s Choice.

  4. Add to this dilemma that a triplet pregnancy is considerably higher risk than a twin pregnancy. There is a higher incidence of physical, cognitive, and developmental problems in triplets than in twins. More risk of pre-term delivery, fetal and neonatal death and longer stays in NICU and less favorable outcomes. This situation reminds me of the ethical dilemmas often faced when deciding when and if to separate conjoined twins. As with most ethical questions there is rarely a black or white answer. It could even be argued that surrogacy and even fertility treatment are unethical as long as children languish in foster care and orphanages. Pinning this one down ethically is like trying to pin Jello-to the wall.

  5. Personally I think the whole concept of surrogate motherhood is morally wrong.

    That said; I’d be really interested in reading the contract between the surrogate mother, the biological father, the woman that donated the eggs, and what about the father’s wife (if there is one), isn’t she part of this contract too?

    Personally I think the father was told about the whole process well in advance and fully knew that there was a chance of triplets. In my opinion forcing the surrogate mother to abort any of these children would be morally wrong and quite likely a breach of the surrogate motherhood contract. What if the surrogate mother wanted to abort all of them and the biological father didn’t agree.

    • I am the biological father of a child born of a surrogate mother. I’m sure ResurrectedToday is correct that the father fully knew that there was a chance of triplets. But the surrogate knew the same thing, and I’m almost 100% certain that she agreed in advance that she would have an abortion if the father requested it. (If not, then there are a lot of lawyers, doctors and other professionals who did not do their job.) Either she changed her mind, or she never really intended to abide by that agreement.

      I can say a few things about my own experience:

      1. There were a lot of people involved in the process: me, the surrogate, the donor, the three lawyers representing us, the doctors, and the psychologists and social workers at the lawyers’ and doctors’ offices. In almost every conversation that I had with any of these people, the subject of multiple births was discussed. Everybody involved understood clearly that there was a very high possibility of twins, triplets or even more.

      2. At the very beginning of the process, I filled out long questionnaires provided by my lawyer and the doctors’ office. One of the many questions was whether there were any circumstances under which I would want the surrogate to have an abortion. If so, I was instructed to describe those circumstances. This questionnaire was provided to the surrogate before she agreed to meet with me.

      3. The surrogate also filled out a questionnaire before I met her, and she was asked whether there were any circumstances under which she would be willing to have an abortion and, if so, to describe those circumstances. A few potential surrogates stated in their questionnaires that they would not be willing to have an abortion under any circumstances. Some were willing to have an abortion whenever requested. Others stated that they would be willing to have an abortion but only under specified circumstances; often, they said that they would be willing to have an abortion to reduce a multiple birth to two babies but not to reduce twins.

      4. Surrogates are in high demand and the supply is small. It can take many months to find a surrogate. A surrogate who states that she is unwilling to have an abortion will still have no problem finding a would-be parent who is eager to hire her.

      5. The surrogate and I met face-to-face on three occasions before the contract was signed, once together with a doctor and social worker, a second time with her husband and children, and a third time alone. Each time, multiples and abortion were major topics.

      6. The doctor told us that when there were four or more, he always recommended that the number be reduced to two, because of the danger to the life and health of both the mother and the children. When there were three or more, he usually but not always recommended a reduction for health reasons.

      7. Although the doctor always used the terms, “reduce” and “reduction,” the social worker frequently used the terms, “abort” and “abortion.” She said that she didn’t want us to forget the reality of what we were talking about. In particular, she urged the surrogate to consider very carefully how she would really feel if asked to have an abortion.

      8. My lawyer and the surrogate’s lawyer negotiated the contract, which included specific language describing exactly what the surrogate and I had agreed about abortion. Essentially, it provided that she could have an abortion upon the recommendation of the doctor to preserve her own physical (not mental) health but otherwise would not have one except at my request. I agreed that I would not request an abortion except for the babies’ health upon the recommendation of the doctor. This included a reduction from triplets to twins if the doctor recommended and a reduction from four or more to twins in all cases.

      9. The contract specifically said that the decision to have or not have an abortion was solely the surrogate’s. She could have or refuse to have an abortion for any reason regardless of my wishes. It could hardly have said otherwise, since the Supreme Court has made it clear that no court can order a woman not to have an abortion that she wants or, contrariwise, to have an abortion she doesn’t want. If she broke our agreement, though, she would forfeit her fee and be required to pay damages for breach of contract. (By the way, I suppose this is consistent with JM’s view that the surrogate should only be “liable for the fee and the cost incurred by the foiled parents.” But it’s worth noting that the entire process ended up costing me about $160,000, which would have been far beyond the surrogate’s ability to pay. Would demanding that amount have constituted “pressuring a woman to have an abortion using tangible threats,” which is ethically wrong? How many hairs make a beard?)

      10. The contract said that the surrogate was relinquishing her parental rights and that if any babies were born, she would be required to surrender them to me. According to the lawyers, this provision was specifically enforceable in all of the potentially relevant jurisdictions. That is, the court would order her to turn them over if she refused.

      11. Now that the issue has come up, it occurs to me that we never did talk about what would happen to the unwanted children if she refused to have an abortion when I requested. I pulled the contract out and, as best I can tell, she was supposed to turn all of them, wanted or unwanted, over to me. At that point, I suppose I could have put the unwanted one up for adoption, or maybe left it in a basket at the front door of a convent.

      * * * * *

      This is a long way of saying that the situation described in the article is one that was discussed with the surrogate at length many times, and that the surrogate knew exactly what she was agreeing to. Before the contract was signed, she had many, many chances to decide that she did not want to agree to an abortion. She could have walked away at any time and signed a contract with someone else who wouldn’t have asked her to have one. But she didn’t.

      Now she has changed her mind. She wants to keep her fee and the babies. She’s talking about a custody hearing, so I suppose she also wants the father to pay child support to her. Whatever you may think about the father, it’s clear that her conduct has been far from ethical.

      Also, if we can pause for a moment, there is this information given by his lawyer and hidden away at the bottom of the Post’s second story: “The intended dad plans to claim parental rights to all three kids… [He] did initially request Cook to abort one of the triplets — but only for health reasons based on the recommendation of doctors. But when Cook refused, the dad respected Cook’s wishes and backed off. He did not pursue legal action for breach of contact and continues to make medical payments to her.”

      • J. Jonah Jameson,
        I only have a couple of questions for you:

        1. Why didn’t you adopt a child that needed a family? That was not meant to be a judgmental question, I’m really just curious.

        2. $160,000 is a LOT of money, average income families in the area where I live couldn’t afford that, why was it so expensive?

        Even though I disagree with your method of achieving fatherhood, I respect your decision to actively pursue becoming a father, it’s a life changing decision and rewarding. Hopefully someday you’ll have grandchildren too. 😉

        • “Why didn’t you adopt a child that needed a family?”

          As a woman who battled infertility in the past, and have many friends who did the same, along with others who intentionally became single parents, used surrogates, or have or are trying to adopt a baby, let me say that this is the absolute worst question you can ever ask somebody going through this process. As you pointed out, you are not trying to be judgmental, but you should never ask this.

          Some people just want a baby. Why don’t heterosexual married couples adopt unwanted children instead of making their own? We don’t ask them that question — people who are facing challenges similarly shouldn’t be asked that. Especially when their emotions are already running high or even may be fighting depression.

          There are many reasons that people go through this process. Infertility is a main one, but you also may be a same sex (male) couple, or a male individual, or other medical problems (I have a cousin with a serious back injury from an old car accident who can’t carry children). Some people just want a biologically related child. This can be especially important to men. Others just want the experience of raising a baby. Mothers giving up infants often get to choose the adoptive parents. Adoptive parents who are single, same sex, or are older don’t always get picked — religion, attractiveness, and other subjective factors also influence this result.

          Even for people who are willing to adopt older children, those children often come with physical and emotional problems that are not easily overcome. Separation from their biological parents can be hard and often those biological parents remain in the picture. Also, because the legal system (rightly) favors keeping children with their biological parents, adopting out of the foster care system can be emotionally devastating when parental rights have not been formally terminated and the biological parents re-enter the picture and are reunited with the child.

          As for the $160,000 price tag — you should know that adoption fees also can be extraordinarily high unless adopting out of foster care (where babies are few and far between). Foreign adoptions for a single child can easily exceed $60,000, and there are often some irregular fees (or even bribes) that come into play with certain countries that can make an adoptive parent(s) uncomfortable. Domestic adoptions also can exceed $100,000 — as was the case with one of my friends. Going to infertility doctors also can get you over the $100,000 mark, depending on how many cycles need to be done.

          Not that raising children isn’t ridiculously expensive anyway. In the DC area, daycare for a single child can easily be between $2000 and $3000 a month. And many people have more than one child. And those fees don’t go away once they become school age. Even if you are utilizing public school, you will still have after school fees and child care in the summer (assuming both parents work, which is typical here because of cost of living). And private school? Holy cow, our private school fees exceed our mortgage payments and we are saving for college as well.

          So, when I see someone willing to spend $160,000 to have a child, I say “congratulations,” while, at the same time, thinking that these parents are putting more thought into this decision than most. They really want to be parents, it is important to them, they are sacrificing to do it, and I bet they are going to be great at it.

          All of this is to say — don’t ask. Just like you don’t ask the married couple why they are choosing to have their own.

          • Comment of the Day, Beth—they are comming fast and furious for some reason; I think it will be paired with JJJ’s comment.
            I couldn’t disagree more, by the way, but I’ll hold my arguments til the posting. Great comment. Thanks.

          • Beth said, “…let me say that this is the absolute worst question you can ever ask somebody going through this process…”

            Your implication is false. J. Jonah Jameson is not currently “going through this process” as you implied, he’s already been through the process and he’s looking at it with hindsight now.

            Beth said, “…let me say that this is the absolute worst question you can ever ask…, …you should never ask this.”

            Don’t give me any of that hogwash Beth; it was a question that can be answered or not answered for whatever reason the person chooses! You cannot dictate what questions should or shouldn’t be asked – period!

            For the record: My wife and I have been through fertility issues, we made our choices based on what was available to us at the time (mid 1980’s). Using my own hindsight, I might have considered it to be a little insensitive and a bit judgmental if a person asked me that very same question when we were actually going through the problems but I would not consider it that today, we made our choices and I have absolutely no problem with answering questions regarding those choices.

            There are choices to be made and I’m simply curious why this was his choice, there is nothing despicable about asking the question of a person looking at all this in hindsight.

            I’m not the insensitive dolt you’re trying to portray me as. I honestly think your first paragraph went a bit overboard on this Beth, get off your high horse and come back down to Earth. Your subsequent paragraphs had lots of relevant information and I commend you for sharing it, but your tone towards me was not warranted or welcome.

            The question stands as is.

            • I actually acknowledged that you weren’t trying to be insensitive, so I’m unsure why this moral outrage is being directed at me.

              And, the question shouldn’t be asked before, during, or after — regardless if the process results in no children, biological children, or adopted children.

              • There are way too many questions that people, for one reason on another, think shouldn’t be asked. I call BS. Of course the questions should be asked. There may or may not be good times to ask them, but how else do we learn? The questions need to be asked, and asked (and answered) in advance if possible.

                I might concede that just because of idle curiosity people shouldn’t ask questions that might be intrusive. But, this is a case of asking in the context of a discussion that needs to be had, and that the person being asked open himself up to.

                • “The questions need to be asked, and asked (and answered) in advance if possible.”

                  Why? It’s not your life and it doesn’t impact you in any way. Why do you need to know how another person is creating a family?

                  These questions are personal ones and only need to be addressed by the people (the immediate family) that will be impacted.

                  • Because of exactly what you see here. These decisions are not purely personal. They impact at least 5 people/entities besides the person(s) who wants the child before they even start. 1. The child. 2. the egg donor, 3. the surrogate, 4. the lawyer who draws up the contract, 5. the system of law that provides for it to happen. Every step has huge societal impact. It does impact me that contracts can be made that codify making a commodity of human life. In a society that codifies human life as a commodity every life is diminished.

                    • “It does impact me that contracts can be made that codify making a commodity of human life. In a society that codifies human life as a commodity every life is diminished.”

                      But that’s not what’s happening. No one can compel an abortion. No one. The commodity at issue here is the service being offered (carrying a child or children). It does not affect you. Children die every day across the world (sometimes by horrible and preventable reasons), but those deaths do not diminish the importance of my own children’s lives.

                      Your argument is similar to the objections to gay marriage. It does not diminish your or my marriage to a heterosexual man if our next door same-sex neighbors also are married. The evil Kardashians are not diminishing my marriage nor, are the people who run off to Vegas to get married after knowing each other for 5 minutes.

                      Do you not want a child carried by surrogate? Don’t have one. Do you not want to donate your eggs? Don’t do it. Do you not want to marry a woman. Don’t do it.

                      I do think there is room to argue about the new genetic advances and how that impacts children. Do we think it is okay to clone human lives? Do we think it is okay to create designer babies? Do we think it is okay to remove the gene code that makes Alzheimer’s more likely? So, there is a line to be crossed. I just don’t think surrogacy is anywhere close to it.

                    • The collision of technology and bioethics creates new anomalies that require whole new ethical paradigms; surrogacy is a great example. Who is the mother? Is a rented womb still the birth mother’s to control? these were not previously in the ethics mix because they were impossible. Self-aware robots: same problem. Half-human, half-animal hybrids; head transplants.

                      The Ethics Incompleteness Principle dictates that once you have answered the Ick question, you go back to square one, and analyze the issue de novo.

                    • The contract spells out who the mother is, if any. Donors give up their eggs and have no rights to any offspring that comes from them. Surrogates rent out their womb (and can refuse an abortion on that womb), but any live children resulting from that womb do not belong to the surrogate. If a couple is using a surrogate, the couple will be listed as the parents on the birth certificate.

                      I agree that there is a collision between medicine, ethics, and law — I just don’t think surrogacy is part of it.

                      These are not new questions frankly. When I started reading this post, I thought you would be tackling the far more challenging question: “When is it ethical, if ever, for a woman to abort one or more fetuses in order to improve the chances of survival for the remaining fetuses.” As I mentioned in one of my above comments, I thank God I never had to wrestle with that decision.

              • Beth said, “I actually acknowledged that you weren’t trying to be insensitive…”

                Beth, you writing “as you pointed out, you are not trying to be judgmental…” might have been an honest acknowledgement of my words but then you chose to add “but you should never ask this” which is a repetition of your initial your an insensitive dolt implication.

                “I’m unsure why this moral outrage is being directed at me.”

                Really??? Are you purposely being obtuse or wasn’t me clearly stating that you were portraying me as an insensitive dolt a great big clue as the to why there was “moral outrage”?

                “the question shouldn’t be asked…”

                You’re welcome to your opinion but your not welcome to dictate what I should or shouldn’t asked another person. You are most certainly not welcome to take a question out of the genuinely respectful context that it was asked and use it to portray me as an insensitive dolt, and that is exactly what you did; Own it!

                I’ve stated all I wish to state regarding your personal insult; I’m moving on.

                • I will own the fact that I pointed out to you that it is hurtful for people to be questioned how they created their families. It is up to you to choose whether you are going to keep doing it.

                  • Beth said, “it is hurtful for people to be questioned how they created their families.”

                    Beth, You just opened your mouth and inserted your foot. Such a complete misrepresentation of facts cannot be ignored.

                    I did not ask how J. Jonah Jameson created his family I already knew the answer to that, I asked why J. Jonah Jameson made the choice he did. I respectfully ask; do you understand the basic differences between those two questions?

                    Beth said, “It is up to you to choose whether you are going to keep doing it.”

                    Since you’ve completely misrepresented what I asked, that sentence is a fallacy.

                    Do you give up now or are you going to open your mouth to change socks?

                    • There is nothing to give up.

                      I’m sorry that you don’t think you are being insensitive. At first, I didn’t think you intended to be, now I see that you just don’t care — or just don’t understand.

                      So we’re clear, any question that involves “what, why, how, but, where, or any derivation thereof” when asking about the creation of their children is insensitive to most people.

                    • Beth said below, any question that involves “what, why, how, but, where, or any derivation thereof” when asking about the creation of their children is insensitive to most people.”

                      I boldfaced the problem with your line of thought.

                      I disagree with that line of thought, it’s closed-minded prejudice and it’s unethical.

                      Are we done now?

                    • By the way Beth; I’m pretty sure your statement “I’m sorry that you don’t think you are being insensitive.” fits #9 of the apology scale. 😉

                      You’re having a rough day, here’s to hoping that tomorrow we’ll have a conversation with less sniping; I’m serious, let’s move beyond this.

                    • Sorry that you took it as sniping, I was trying to educate. In any event, I’m sick of educating people to stop asking others about the circumstances surrounding their adoptions or their fertility treatments. At some point, you want to stop educating and just start yelling.

        • I don’t mind answering ResurrectedToday’s questions. I’ve been asked them many times. Everybody involved in the process asked me the question, “Why not adopt?” and the even more important question, “Why do you want to have a child?” I spent hours and hours answering those questions to their satisfaction.

          In my answer below, I’m describing the law and the dynamics of the process as they were several years ago when I went through it. Things may have changed now.

          1. I wanted to raise a child from infancy. I began by trying to adopt, spent over a year on that effort, but was unsuccessful. It is perhaps not well understood that the mother of a new-born child is the person who chooses the adoptive parents. Prospective parents write a sales brochure, which is then distributed to adoption agencies and abortion clinics. (Maybe that’s done online these days; I don’t know.) The pregnant mother reviews stacks of brochures and chooses which prospective parents to interview. Like other mothers, they love their babies and want them to have happy lives. They almost always choose the adoptive parents on the basis of only one factor: who they think will be the best for their child. Usually, they pick a married, heterosexual couple. In some cases, they choose a single woman, a lesbian couple or a gay couple, perhaps because many of them are single or lesbian themselves. But they never pick a single man. I was told byy several adoption agencies, some of which had been in existence for decades, that in their entire history, they had never seen an unmarried man chosen.

          The alternatives are adopting an infant from a foreign country or adopting an older child rather than an infant. Each of those alternatives had serious drawbacks.

          First, most foreign countries prohibited single fathers from adopting. (Again, I’m talking about things as they were at the time, several years ago. Things may have changed by now.)

          Second, there was a very large demand for infants, even from foreign countries, and a limited supply. In the countries where single fathers were legally permitted to adopt, there would still have been a large chance that I would not be selected over other prospective parents.

          Third, adopting an older child is a much different thing than raising a child from infancy. The child’s most formative years have already been spent with other people. In many cases, the child has serious, even irreversible mental-health issues. This is especially true with children adopted through the states’ child-welfare programs. Almost always, that child has spent many months or years with grossly neglectful or abusive parents before being taken away, after a long legal process, by child protective services. He or she will then have spent many months or years in the state’s foster care program, often being shuffled from one foster family to another. Raising a child adopted under those circumstances has many satisfactions but, for the same reasons as most people, I wasn’t unselfish enough to do that. I wanted to see my own children grow from birth and to be the most influential person in their lives.

          2. My child was born by in vitro fertilization through an egg donor and a surrogate mother who carried the child. This is a very expensive medical procedure under the best of circumstances, and it often must be repeated several times before it results in a viable fetus, because the surrogate’s body eliminates the embryo while it still consists of only a few cells. At the time, the odds of success with any given implanted embryo were roughly one in three. That meant that if two embryos were implanted at a time, the chance of success (i.e., having at least one viable fetus) were approximately 50% each time. In my case, the procedure had to be repeated three times before a viable fetus resulted.

          Medical costs are not the only expense. The prospective parents must also pay fees and expenses for the surrogate, the donor, the lawyers and various other things. The donor’s fees are much higher than you might think. Donating sperm takes five minutes and a single donor may provide enough for hundreds of prospective parents. Donating eggs takes several weeks, involves debilitating and invasive medical procedures, and results in only enough eggs for a single set of prospective parents at a time. In addition, peculiar to my own case, because I was a single father, the other parties also required psychological evaluations and home visits by professional social workers and an extensive background check by a private investigator, which I also paid for.

          Finally, in my case, I had already spent a fair amount of money on the failed adoption process.

          Another question that might occur to you: Why use this expensive in vitro procedure with its low rate of success? Why not just use the turkey baster method — get a woman pregnant, with an agreement that you will get sole custody of the child? The “donor” and “surrogate” would be the same person, the cost much lower and the success rate very high. The answer is the law. The law in states that allowed paid surrogacy was that a woman could contract away her right to custody if the child was not biologically her own, but she could retain custody of her own biological child regardless of any contract. My lawyer assured me that, in her experience, the biological mother had kept custody 100% of the time, and in addition, that I would be responsible to pay child support until the child reached adulthood. So it was absolutely necessary as a legal matter to use a separate egg donor and surrogate, which mandated the in vitro method.,

          • Rereading my answer, I see I left out the fact that I had already raised one child from the time he was 13. That had a lot to do with my desire to have an new-born rather than to adopt an older child.

          • J. Jonah Jameson,
            Thanks for answering my questions, I appreciate the effort and candor.

            I understand the basis for your choices. Why you made your choices gives me some reasonably challenging points to think about that “might” cause me to reevaluate my personal opinion on the topic. Thanks for the honesty.

            Along the lines of what Beth was talking about regarding the appropriateness of questions to ask others; I don’t think I would choose to personally ask someone “Why do you want to have a child?”.

            • But I’ll bet you would definitely ask that question if you were going to be the mother (biological or surrogate) of the child, especially if a single man were going to be the father.

              • I’m honestly not so sure I personally would ever ask that particular question because I’d likely never be directly involved in the process you were involved in, I’m just too old now; however, in your situation I think that question would be a very reasonable question to ask prospective parents in the process of hiring a surrogate or adopting but it should be asked in the privacy of psychologists, social workers, lawyers, and others involved. I’m sure there are a lot more very intrusive questions that should and are asked of everyone involved in things like hiring a surrogate and adoption; but as an outsider to an active process, I don’t think those questions are for me to ask. Just my opinion based on the things that make me the person I am.

                That said; I’m enough of a pompous ass at times I wouldn’t have any problem whatsoever asking someone a question after the process has been completed, something like “why did you want to be a parent” but it’s still a question that I’d likely avoid. I can think of a few extreme situations that would likely compel me to ask that sort of question.

                It’s been a good conversation, thanks for your input.

          • “But they never pick a single man. I was told by several adoption agencies, some of which had been in existence for decades, that in their entire history, they had never seen an unmarried man chosen.”

            As a single male who does not date often or easily (for…whatever reason), but who desperately wants to be a father someday, and have recently considered going the adoption route, reading this was sobering, and yes, very, very depressing (I have no doubt you felt similarly when you were told this). But I do thank you, tremendously, for sharing your experience. You can read thorough site after site, on adoption information, but you wont find realistic (and blunt) information like what you provided.

            As much as I wish the world we lived in was just a little bit closer to a meritocracy than it currently is, I know that it’s not; “undeserving” people frequently fall ass backwards into prosperity, and many “good” people live lives full of bad breaks. However, knowing that the old adage, that “you need a license to fish, but any fool can have a child” is true, but that people who genuinely, sincerely, want to be a parent through adoption face such an up hill battle, with regards to financial, emotional, and time commitments, while people who could care less about parenting are still popping out babies left and right makes me want to crawl under the covers and reevaluate the direction of my life.

  6. I’m a pro-choice person (though limited…very nuanced thoughts on the subject) and I think there is no option for an abortion (or partial abortion) in this situation. The rules you outline above are fair and spot on.

  7. To go all the way back to the beginning the first thing you have is a person who wants a child, but is not capable of having one without creating a legal contract. I wonder about the father’s motivations in the first place. Unless it was to create and raise a child whose well being will be the first consideration in all future decisions concerning that life there are already too many conflicts of interest. After that each step creates another cascade of ethical and legal questions and none of them seem to be centered on the life that has been created. I don’t think people or the law are capable of controlling for all of the possibilities.

    The last thing considered, it seems to me, are the lives that have been so recklessly created. I keep trying to view each decision from the point of view of any one of those lives. Frankly, I can’t see a completely ethical outcome. Maybe I’m confusing ethical with optimum.

    • Agreed. This baby on demand technology/industry is just fraught with horrors. And it’s more than just Jack’s term “ick.” For example, when these children ask who their mother is, how happy will they feel with “well, children, the egg was donated by a lady and another lady brought you to term so let’s go get ice cream.”

      • When my son was very young, he asked, “Where is my mother?” I said, “San Diego.” That satisfied him for over a year. As he has grown older, we have had increasingly detailed conversations on the subject. Essentially, my consistent answer has been, “I wanted to have a boy just like you and some very nice ladies helped me,” with technical details pitched to his current level of understanding over the years. Other than the science, I think it’s easier for me to answer that question than for a single or divorced mother to answer the question, “Why did Daddy leave me?”

  8. I do think that, as far as abortion discussions go, this is a relatively easy call. At the risk of seeming insensitive on the topic of bodily autonomy, I think a good analogy would be a farmer contracted to grow a certain amount of corn. Is he allowed to burn the corn in the field before it’s harvested and delivered? No, that would result in breach of contract. But, if he grows a surplus of corn, the contract-owner has no right to force him to destroy the surplus. On the other hand, the farmer is entirely responsible for the surplus, and the contract-owner has no obligation to sell it at market for him.

  9. Your questions are real skullcrushers, What an ethics train wreck. Nobody seems squeaky clean on this one. The surrogate mom sued for custody (not sure if for one child or all of them) challenging the constitutionality and enforceability of surrogacy on public policy grounds; and the putative father said he was only kidding when he threatened legal action, and what a mess everybody created. Yes, they did. The only one with any sense seems to be Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, a group that opposes surrogacy, who said,

    “By all medical exams to date, the babies that Melissa is carrying are all healthy. It’s just a matter of we don’t want three. We want two, which for me is rather disgusting to see that’s how we treat children,” Lahl also said that this case was indicative of larger problems with surrogacy, commenting that “it’s treating women as hired paid workers – breeders.”

    “We make demands about what kind of children we’ll have, what kind of children we want, how many children we want, how many children we don’t want,” Lahl said asking, “Do you really want to turn pregnancy into a commercial contract?”

    The comments to the from November 25, 2015, are even more illuminating, ranging from “that’s a real head-scratcher”, to “what’s the big deal? It’s a contract, nothing more, nothing less”, to “life means life so don’t abort”, to “multiples are always higher risk so it’s in the best interest of the children to abort one”, to “how dare some man force women to abort or carry to term – by golly, it’s her body, she decides”.

    I think I will just play with my trains and watch this one play out in the media.


  10. A modern proverb about character is that it’s “what you do when no one is watching.”

    Abortion is our peculiar institution, the red ink all over the test of our national character. Unlike slavery, child labor, or segregation, abortion produces no national outcry and eventual purge. Because it happens behind closed doors, when no one is watching. That is the difference. If baby parts were thrown out into the street or posted on Facebook as commonly as spree killings, people would be talking about it.

    Every possible argument in defense of abortion was also made in defense of slavery, and it is impossible to present a valid defense of abortion for which an equivalent argument was not also made to defend slavery. But the injustices of slavery were impossible to keep hidden. Concealed cameras and undercover reporting were not necessary to get the reality of slavery out in front of large numbers of people.

    This man is trying to order a woman to have an abortion, as per a legal agreement between the two, and the pro and anti-abortion crowds find this repugnant. Because it is. The fact that MOST women who have abortions are in fact coerced or pressured to do so by men is something that feminists can’t seem to get up in arms about. It might expose the canard that abortion was always about women’s rights (and not mainly about eugenics.) It just might get people talking about the reality of who gets abortions, why, and what happens, and that’s dangerous. If 50, 60, or even 70 percent of abortions happen TO women because of threats from men, and not by their own choice, then all of those women will just have to be sacrificed to keep the abortion machine going. For the cause of States’ rights against Northern aggression- excuse me, women’s rights against male aggression.

    • Oh, no, the argument for abortion is quite simple, almost trivial:

      Fetuses aren’t people.

      “But people said the same thing about black people!”

      Yes, but were they correct?


      Fetuses aren’t people for the same reason that pigs aren’t people – they lack the intelligence necessary to be considered people. The only thing which separates us from “lesser animals” is our intelligence, and if we were ever to encounter something with human-level intelligence, it would be ethically impossible to treat it as anything other than a person.

      Black people are significantly more intelligent than pigs. Fetuses aren’t.

      Ergo, a fetus is not a person, while a black person is.

      There are no ethical issues with abortion, really. Even a newborn infant doesn’t show as much intelligence as a pig does, so arbitrarily banning infanticide, which is well below the personhood threshold, saves us from killing any people while avoiding any real ethical issues.

  11. “The evil Kardashians are not diminishing my marriage nor, are the people who run off to Vegas to get married after knowing each other for 5 minutes.”

    Yes they are. Things that diminish ethics diminish everyone. Maybe not directly, but by degree. Every little unethical thing people do creates a rationalization. Rationalizations make us think unethical things are ethical. Damage is done to marriage by heterosexual Judeo-Christian unethical behavior and it was done long before gay marriage was even an issue. Damage is done to respect for life when so-called moral Christian women get abortions to preserve the appearance of morality. Damage is done to families when parents don’t take responsibility for their own children and government is forced to step in.
    Consequences don’t just come to the people doing the damage.

    • Abortions are a good thing.

      Fetuses aren’t people. That’s just reality. They aren’t as intelligent as things which we don’t consider people, and intelligence is the thing which separates us from “lesser creatures”. Fetuses aren’t capable of behaving ethically, and have no moral standing beyond the fact that we aren’t allowed to deliberately cripple them in order to produce crippled people (as producing crippled people is immoral).

      Preventing unwanted children from existing is moral behavior. It is always more moral not to have unwanted children than it is to have unwanted children.

  12. To answer these questions:

    1) The man is clearly an idiot for trying to force her to abort the fetuses. As they are growing within her body, and it would be a medical decision, trying to force her to undergo unnecessary medical treatment is, well, pretty illegal.

    2) She could abort all of the fetuses if she so chose to do so. This is well within her rights, as she has the right to make decisions about her own health and body. However, as she entered into a contract selling a service (her being a surrogate mother) to someone else for cash, obviously she would be in violation of said contract, and be out whatever money she was being paid for her services.

    3) The father is liable for the children being born in this way, I think. He is free to surrender one for adoption. Or if the birth mother wants the third one, I’d think it is fair to say she has dibs.

    4) There’s nothing unethical about aborting unwanted fetuses. In fact, it is unethical to do otherwise. Society is better off without any unwanted children in it. Not creating unwanted children is always a more ethical choice than creating unwanted children.

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