Most surrogate mother arrangements work out exactly as intended by the participants. A couple or a single parent gets the biologically linked baby they bargained for, and the mother gets what she wanted, cash. To many the contracts seem unethical because the idea, only recently beyond the realm of science fiction, of a woman bearing another couple’s child, or allowing a stranger’s seed to impregnate her, appears strange, unnatural and icky, which it is. No, it is not unethical, but it is what we call a pre-unethical condition, a situation that lays a foundation for unethical conduct and results if care isn’t taken and one or more participants lack functioning ethics alarms. Three recent episodes demonstrate how icky can turn to unethical, especially when the wrong kind of people are involved.
I. The Unwanted Triplet, continued.
Earlier this year, Ethics Alarms hosted a spirited debate regarding Melissa Cook, a surrogate who fought against the man who owned her three unborn triplets, having rented out her womb to gestate them. He wanted to have one of them aborted, because two babies were all he felt he could support. She refused, and challenged the surrogacy contract in court. I asked… Continue reading
Beth’s thoughtful Comment of the Day is only tangentially a comment on the Ethics Alarms post about the surrogate mother who balked at aborting one third of the triplets she was carrying. It was really a comment on a comment made to the author of the previous Comment of the Day on the same post, as J. Jonah Jameson described his own experience as a father who employed a surrogate. JJJ was asked why he chose the expensive and risky surrogate route rather than adoption. That question inspired Beth’s Comment of the Day.
Here it is; I’ll be back at the end.
“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.
It’s very thoughtful of Ethics Alarms readers to provide such high level content so I have a chance of completing the 2015 Ethics Alarms Awards before March. I am awash in potential Comments of the Day all of a sudden, and this is the first of nesting COTDs, both inspired by the recent post on the surrogate with gestating triplets who is blocking the attempt of the biological father to abort Eenie, Meenie, or Miney, he doesn’t care which.
New commenter J. Jonah Jameson—presumably not really Peter Parker’s employer—submitted a helpful personal story that puts much of that drama in perspective. Here is his Comment of the Day on the post, The Strange Case Of The Unwanted Triplet:
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.
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. Continue reading
The involuntary liver transplant from Monty Python’s “The Meaning of Life.” Why, you’re RIGHT, Amanda! It’s EXACTLY like a pregnancy!
(Part One is here.)
If an advocate has persuasive, honest, strong arguments not based on fallacies and rationalizations, I assume that those would be the ones he or she would use.
The recent Center for Medical Progress videos featuring employees of Planned Parenthood and StemExpress describing in graphic detail the process by which fetal tissue is harvested for research, and in some cases showing the process itself, have made abortion advocates squirm by making it difficult for them to deny that a tiny, growing human being is sacrificed in the act of abortion. This makes the evasive “choice” defense of abortion inadequate. Why shouldn’t unborn lives matter? Either because of neglect (“It’s legal” and “it’s my right” have been used to cut off debate for decades), because the rationale for debate has been built on a convenient fiction (“Life? I don’t see any life!”), or because there really aren’t any ethically satisfying justifications for abortion on demand, the pro-abortion lobby’s attacks on the videos have been notable for their lack of substance and abundant desperation.
This has been especially true of the analogies offered for the relationship between a mother and unborn child, and the fetus itself.
In the Washington Post last week, Margo Kaplan, who as an associate professor at Rutgers Law School should be skilled at analogies, attacked anti-abortion advocates with what she seemed to think was a definitive “gotcha!” She notes that there is nowhere near the same level of attention paid to frozen embryos that are donated to research as aborted fetuses, and from this concludes all manner of horrible things about abortion opponents: Continue reading
After centuries of oppression, Gays have finally achieved the right to openly be who they are as long as they don’t piss of Elton John.
Stefano Gabbana and Domenico Dolce are Italian fashion design superstars, meaning that I pay no attention to them whatsoever, and don’t understand the priorities of anyone who does. Nonetheless, they have a rich and famous international clientele.. The two men were once romantic partners, but no longer; how they are just business and artistic partners, and continue to thrive.
Their thriving, however, has suffered from a self-inflicted setback. In an interview with the Italian magazine Panorama, the pair declared their lack of support for same-sex families with children created by in vitro fertilization. “I am not convinced by those I call children of chemicals, synthetic children,” Dolce told the magazine. “Rented uterus, semen chosen from a catalog.” Gabbana added, “The family is not a fad. In it there is a supernatural sense of belonging.”
The Horror: a non-conforming opinion from prominent gay fashion icons! Can’t have that! Lapsed pop superstar Elton John, who has two sons through in vitro fertilization with his husband, David Furnish, took the remarks as a personal attack and proclaimed a boycott of the Gabbana & Dolce label. “How dare you refer to my beautiful children as ‘synthetic,’ ” Mr. John wrote on social media. “Shame on you for wagging your judgmental little fingers at I.V.F. Your archaic thinking is out of step with the times, just like your fashions. I shall never wear Dolce & Gabbana ever again.” Thus was born the hashtag #BoycottDolceGabbana.”
At the annual conference of the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology in Madrid, it was revealed that researchers from Israel and the Netherlands have kept ovarian tissue from aborted fetuses alive in the laboratory for several weeks.The chief researcher in the project, Dr. Tal Biron-Shental, said it was “theoretically possible” that with extra hormone treatment they could have produced mature eggs suitable for use in in vitro fertilization. Female fetuses develop ovaries after as little as 16 weeks in the womb, and harvesting eggs from them could be a boon for infertile couples.
Dr Tom Shakespeare, director of the Policy, Ethics and Life Sciences Research Institute at Newcastle University, told the Daily Mail that he was “deeply uneasy'”about the idea of using aborted fetuses as a source of eggs, saying, “My personal view is that it is wrong. Partly because it would cause widespread revulsion and partly because you would have somebody born who is the child of someone who never lived. We need to consider the welfare of the child and the impact of finding out that your mother was aborted.” Continue reading
The disturbing story of Carolyn and Sean Savage’s pregnancy was a hot topic in September, but it is barely remembered now. I am hoping that bioethicists and legal specialists are still cogitating over it, however, because the ethical and legal issues aren’t going away. They are probably just around the corner. Continue reading