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
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