April 21, 2024

Surrogate agrees to abort “defective” child

Canadian dispute

When a Vancouver couple discovered that the
child they had commissioned had Down syndrome, they urged their surrogate
mother to abort it, a doctor has told Canadian
Society of Fertility and Andrology conference.

Dr Ken Seethram, the
treating doctor, said that the three had signed a contract sometime in the past
year covering delivery of the baby, although no Canadian laws currently govern
such transactions. He used the case to call for government regulation of

The couple and the surrogate discovered
that the baby had Down syndrome early in the first trimester. They were all
shocked because none of them had contemplated the possibility of a defective
product. Initially the surrogate, who already had two children of her own, refused,
but eventually she had the abortion.

The case led to lively discussion in the
Canadian media. “Should the rules of commerce apply to the creation of
children? No, because children get hurt,” Juliet Guichon of the University
of Calgary, said in the National Post. “It’s kind of like stopping the
production line: ‘Oh, oh, there’s a flaw.’ It makes sense in a production
scenario, but in reproduction it’s a lot more problematic.”

On the other hand, a surrogacy broker, Sally Rhoads of Surrogacy In Canada Online, said that the
parents needed to be protected. “The baby that’s being carried is their baby.
It’s usually their genetic offspring,” she said. “Why should the
intended parents be forced to raise a child they didn’t want? It’s not

Ms Rhoads said that in
some US states, parents can sue a surrogate to recoup their fees if she
persists with pregnancy against their wishes. She knew of three cases in Canada
in which the surrogate mother raised the child even though the commissioning
couple had backed out. ~ National
Post, Oct 6

Michael Cook