In Connecticut, A Surrogate Mother Triggers An Epic Ethics Train Wreck

Crystal Kelley and...somebody's baby

Crystal Kelley and…somebody’s baby

There is no field of ethics more murky or subject to conflicting interpretations than bioethics, and few issues in bioethics are as confusing as those involving surrogate mothers who decide that they should have some say regarding the fate of the child that grows in their bodies. CNN has reported on the most perplexing such scenario I’ve every encountered, so perplexing that I can’t unravel the ethical rights and wrongs of it.  I wonder if anyone can with confidence. I’ll just summarize the main features and some of the issues raised; you will need to read the whole, stunning story to fully appreciate this train wreck’s sweep and carnage.

I. Crystal Kelley, a single mother who had endured two miscarriages, wanted to help another couple conceive, but mostly wanted the $22,000 fee since she was out of a job. She contracted with a couple seeking their fourth child, and was implanted with two previously frozen embryos. One survived. Ethics issue: Did Kelley tell the parents about her miscarriages?

2. Five months into her pregnancy, tests showed the baby Kelley was carrying had serious medical problems, though the child had a chance at survival. The couple said that they wanted Kelley’s pregnancy terminated because they didn’t want the baby to suffer. Ethics issues: Is that a valid reason to take an unborn child’s life? Was it the real reason? Was the real reason that they were unwilling to pay for and endure all the necessary medical treatmenst, or that they wanted nothing less than a “perfect” baby? Does it matter what the real reason was? Continue reading