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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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243 Responses

  1. Raging Leftie (@ragingleftie)
    Raging Leftie (@ragingleftie) March 5, 2013 at 1:43 pm |

    This is a really complicated issues. And I think one must tread carefully, so many people take this so sensitively and as you said as time goes on this will become an even more common issue. I don’t believe that our current laws etc are sufficient to protect a woman who decides to become a surrogate and more needs to be done to protect the rights of all those involved.

  2. xzaebos
    xzaebos March 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

    The law isn’t prepared for these sort of situations. But I’m not sure how it could. This isn’t a simple matter of exchanging money for a ‘service’. It’s a MASSIVE investment for both parties. Not including the fiscal costs, the medical and emotional investments are enough to seriously consider.

    I…I’ll just adopt.

    1. Raging Leftie (@ragingleftie)
      Raging Leftie (@ragingleftie) March 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

      That is what I think I will do, there are enough children in our country (countries) who need good homes. I have don’t think that there is a good reason to bring another child into this world when there are so many who need good and loving homes.

      1. snorkellingfish
        snorkellingfish March 5, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

        It’s great that you feel that adoption would work so well for you, but is it possible to phrase this in a way that’s less judgy of people who have or want biological kids? I guess I’m referred mainly to this line

        I have don’t think that there is a good reason to bring another child into this world when there are so many who need good and loving homes.

        which could so easily be rephrased as “I don’t think that there is a good reason for me to bring another child into this world when there are so many who need good and loving homes.” Other people might have reasons.

        The issue I have is that not everyone gets judged evenly for choosing to have kids. People rarely question the upper/middle-class white cis straight able-bodied married couple who have a child. Everyone else isn’t so lucky. And that judgment seems to get exacerbated in the context of assisted reproductive technology, because it brings out all the panic about women wanting to have a career before kids or LGBT people having kids. So I guess what I’m saying is that it makes me uncomfortable when people judge others for wanting children in the context of a discussion of assisted reproductive technology or LGBT parents or working class parents or parents who have disabilities, but keep their mouths shut while discussing more privileged parents.

        (Plus, adoption isn’t equally an option everywhere in the world. Like, in Australia the vast majority of adoption is by people known to the child – usually by a stepparent or foster parent. Overseas adoptions happen, but take years and raise a whole bunch of different ethical issues; also, they’re only available to heterosexual married couples. So, YMMV on whether adoption is even an option for everyone.)

        1. Bri
          Bri March 6, 2013 at 1:51 am |

          It’s actually quite difficult for a step parent to legally adopt their spouse’s child these days. When I was a child it was easy, my adoptive father wasn’t even interviewed by the court – my mum said he was a keeper, the judge talked to me (I was 3) and then it was all done and dusted.

          When we investigated my husband adopting my son we were told it was virtually impossible these days as the Family Courts prefer to keep children in touch with their birth parents yada yada yada. No matter than my son has never seen his birth father in the 15 years he has been alive (by his birth father’s choice).

          Adoption in Australia is an incredibly difficult and lengthy process even for those already fostering the child in question.

        2. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

          Adoption in Australia is an incredibly difficult and lengthy process even for those already fostering the child in question.

          None of that terribly surprises me and, I guess, underpins the point I was (clumsily) trying to make that adoption isn’t an easy or readily available option for everyone.

      2. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 5:32 pm |

        adoptions happen, but take years and raise a whole bunch of different ethical issues;

        Yup. This. And I actually left out the “overseas” part because I think all adoptions raise ethical issues. Like who is allowed to/encouraged to adopt? What provisions are made for transracial adoptions? Should all couples be allowed to adopt a child of a different race? What does it say when a couple will NOT adopt a child of a different race? Should same race placements be encouraged and why or why not? What provisions are made so that adoptions can be open and so that all parents contemplating giving their children up for adoption know their rights when it comes to open adoption and also changing their minds after the birth? What provisions are made so that the child can come to terms with their adoption and can access other adoptees that they can talk with without judgment? Should parents with bio children be allowed to adopt? How does that affect the children being adopted? How does it affect the bio children? How does that impact the family and the children if the children are different races? How do you, as an adoptive parent, deal with the fact that you just took a child from a parent that might be able to parent if their lives had been in a different place at the time of pregnancy and birth? How do you deal with the reality that the large majority of bio moms (I haven’t read much about bio dads so I can’t speak to them) will never, ever stop thinking of the moment that they gave their child up for adoption and that it leads to crushing depression for a lot of women? Its not so uncomplicated, actually. Its not as easy as “I’ll just adopt.”

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 5:43 pm |

          Sarah, you’ve summarized that all really well. Adoption is not the easy, painless or even selfless act it is necessarily portrayed to be in our usian society. All the moreso if you have delusions of saving minority babies from the life you feel certain they would have in your absence. The utter erasure of the experiences of the birth parents is also a real concern.

    2. IrishUp
      IrishUp March 5, 2013 at 6:09 pm |

      I strongly recommend that anyone considering adoption read this (IMO seminal) post from Harriet J .

      It’s fraught territory, with both good and bad outcomes. But a lot of the time, the involved parties just don’t have all the information they need to make informed decisions.

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

        Thank you, thank you, thank you for that link!! I love it and I plan to send it around!

  3. jemima101
    jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

    What a heartrending story all round. It reaffirms for me that surrogacy should be a gift, rather than a paid for service, it might not prevent all conflicts like this, but would at least mean contract law and the lawyers were kept further out of it.

    1. Sam
      Sam March 5, 2013 at 2:06 pm |

      Interesting… is surrogacy in the same category that some people would place sex work? That there is no way that it can be paid for and not also exploitative?

      And, as a person who doesn’t really feel that way about sex work (other than that I think capitalism is always exploitative), where do I stand on that when it comes to surrogacy…. I might think that it’s way too big and personal of a service to not be exploitative…. but then I don’t know. I’m sure lots of surrogates would say that I am disempowering them erasing their positive experiences.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

        I am actually thinking of blogging on the comparison, it is not so much the exploitation as the fact that when people start bringing in the lawyers it rarely ends well. Whilst surrogacy is legal in the UK only expenses can be paid and the fetus is the surrogates until it is born. This to me seems the only way of fully respecting a woman’s autonomy over her own body. Parental rights have to be applied for, and the child adopted if it is not the father’s biological child.

        As pro choice constantly says, women are not walking wombs.

        1. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 5, 2013 at 4:52 pm |

          Australia has similar laws: altruistic surrogacy is legal, while commercial surrogacy isn’t. Though, that raises a whole lot more issues when Australians instead hire a surrogate through an overseas agency, in situations where the surrogate might have few legal protections. I’ve read stories in the press of surrogate mothers being treated awfully. I’m not sure what the answer is – it feels like in banning commercial surrogacy in Australia, we’ve just shifted the problem for other countries to deal with.

  4. Sam
    Sam March 5, 2013 at 2:03 pm |

    I feel like… maybe a (crappy) line that could be drawn, just for starters anyways, include the following:
    1. the surrogate can do what she like with her body while it has a fetus in it. She can terminate the pregnancy, she can refuse to terminate the pregnancy
    2. the surrogate has no more rights to the child when born than anyone else involved. It’s no longer about her body and the child is not ‘her child’ in any emotional or relational sense.
    OR 2b. the surrogate has first dibs to the child when born because she is the -only- one with an emotional or relational (and I’m not talking about genetics).
    3. All contracts regarding surrogacy can’t have any ownership over the fetus, only over the baby. So if the adoptive parents using the surrogate specify that the surrogate can’t drink during the pregnancy, they can’t actually say that. They have to say that they won’t take the baby or pay the full amount if the baby is born with FASD.
    4. Money: the adoptive parents must pay the surrogate if she upholds her end of the contract, regardless of if they decide they don’t want the child. if the surrogate breaks the contract (for example, decides she wants to keep the child as her own), the adoptive parents no longer have to pay. This is an attempt at avoiding fraud for the adoptive parents and for the surrogate. It does not do anything for the potential power problems but that’s because capitalism is fucked and can never be unfucked entirely.

    NOW DEBATE! I’m sure I have left a million loopholes because it’s too complex not to

    1. EG
      EG March 5, 2013 at 2:12 pm |

      the surrogate has no more rights to the child when born than anyone else involved. It’s no longer about her body and the child is not ‘her child’ in any emotional or relational sense.

      I realize you included 2b, but I want to pull this out as one of the most misogynist things I can imagine. What this idea does is reify the notion that only the things than men can do create legally important relationships, whereas the things that (mostly) women do cannot. Pregnancy is a time during which many women bond intensely with their children in the most essential emotional or relational sense, and vice versa (you can look at studies regarding voice recognition and calming in newborns for this). The bonds developed during pregnancy are important and matter. If the new mother wishes to adopt the baby out nonetheless, that is her decision to make, but dismissing pregnancy and the bonds formed during it as unimportant is vile.

      Why should genetic relationship matter and gestational relationship not? That only makes sense if you begin by assuming that what men contribute matters but what women contribute doesn’t.

      1. Kierra
        Kierra March 5, 2013 at 2:44 pm |

        Why should genetic relationship matter and gestational relationship not? That only makes sense if you begin by assuming that what men contribute matters but what women contribute doesn’t.

        Huh? Women contribute just as much genetic material as men do. The beginning assumption is that men and women contribute equally. You can argue that the gestational relationship means that the woman contributes more, but they are at least equal.

        @Sam
        I think the 2a/2b issue is the crux of most of these situations.

        1. Kierra
          Kierra March 5, 2013 at 3:02 pm |

          Jill,

          Maybe I misread EG’s post, but it seemed to me that she was extrapolating to all pregnancies.

          I want to pull this out as one of the most misogynist things I can imagine. What this idea does is reify the notion that only the things than men can do create legally important relationships, whereas the things that (mostly) women do cannot.

          I mean, assuming the wealthy woman had been the source of the egg, she would also have contributed equally to her husband. And there’s nothing to say that in a similar situation, the husband may have been replaced by a sperm donor.

        2. Kierra
          Kierra March 5, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

          Okay, nevermind. I think I’ve figured out EG’s point. The post was highlighting the idea that gestation is something uniquely provided by women and thus is downplayed, whereas genetic material is contributed by both men and women, so that’s considered by society to be the important part.

        3. EG
          EG March 5, 2013 at 6:05 pm |

          Huh? Women contribute just as much genetic material as men do. The beginning assumption is that men and women contribute equally.

          No. The beginning assumption is that what men contribute is what matters. If women contribute the same thing, that can matter too. But if women contribute something with no male analog, it is written off as unimportant.

      2. rhian
        rhian March 5, 2013 at 2:50 pm |

        I’m really confused. Don’t women also have a genetic relationship with a baby? And I read Sam’s #2 as proposing that genetic and gestational relationships matter equally, rather than saying genetic relationship matters and gestational doesn’t. Not sure I agree with that anyway, but I’m trying to understand your objection.

      3. trees
        trees March 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

        Yeah, that line is pretty jarring. But I imagine there must be folks who have a very different experience of pregnancy, perhaps one in which it really is just this biological process.

      4. A4
        A4 March 5, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

        Excellent point

      5. Sam
        Sam March 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

        When I said ‘relational’ I didn’t mean genetically, I meant parental. And the reason I said that is because I think that the couple/person who finds a surrogate to have a baby for them have made a commitment to have and raise a child and have the baby as part of their family and lives forever. Whereas the person who has decided to be a surrogate has only planned to carry and nurture a fetus for 9 months and then give birth to a baby. Therefore her -parental- commitment is much lower than the adoptive parents.

        Now that I have cleared that up, I definitely still think you raise a fair point saying that I erased the relationship between carrying woman (or person, if they identify as another gender) and her fetus-soon-to-be-living-breathing-baby. This is an undeniable physical relationship that I shouldn’t have been so quick to dismiss. There is definitely something patriarchal about saying that things that are bodily (like pregnancy and birth) are less important than things that are abstract thoughts (like parental commitment by the adoptive parents to their future child). There is also something patriarchal about ignoring a lived and necessarily emotional experience (carrying and bearing a child) and favouring the ‘cold hard logic’ of contracts and decisions made by both parties, surrogate and adoptive, prior to conception.

        That being said, the reason I included the first part of 2 and didn’t just jump to 2b is because there is something in me that prickles and screams ESSENTIALIST to the argument that people who carry and bear children are inherently more attached to those children than the adoptive parents who planned for the child and wanted a new family member. I don’t believe that biology makes a family (genetics, or in this case, the physical acts of pregnancy and birth). I also don’t believe that anyone has inherent right to ‘own’ a child, regardless of their genetic connection to that child OR the fact that they bore that child. And, finally, I find the suggestion that a child should be raised by the woman that birthed it to be a bit of an inflexible view of what an ideal/natural family is or could be.

        SO. I’m still stuck at a fork in the road!

        1. Wiley
          Wiley March 19, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

          THANK YOU FOR SAYING THAT. OMG.

      6. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 5:36 pm |

        EG, the gestational surrogate in this case had no biological relationship to this fetus, as the gametes were provided by the intended parents (in this case, they were the IPs own frozen embryos.) I understand your concerns about the surrogate’s rights and interests being respected and even protected, but that is arguably what the surrogacy contract is intended for.

        As someone who has undergone the IVF process numerous times, I can tell you that this businessman sounds way less the stuff of Frankenstein’s reproductive monster once you are actually in the thick of it. We may not have considered our frozen embryos to be mini frozen babies or anything delusional like that, but they were still sure as hell ours. Why should that change if a 3rd party is utilized to gestate them?

        I have also admitted below that I’ve encountered this surrogate on the internets before the birth, and that those encounters color my not terribly charitable impressions of her (the IPs are also not terribly sympathetic either.)

        1. EG
          EG March 5, 2013 at 6:12 pm |

          Why should that change if a 3rd party is utilized to gestate them?

          Because a woman is not just an oven. She’s not an object to be “utilized to gestate them.” She is a living, breathing person with emotions and thoughts who is making sacrifices of her own and forming attachments of her own to the being(s) inside her. If you are asking such a service of somebody, you have invited another human being into the mix, and her interests, needs, and emotions–to say nothing of her labor–count.

          I find such a cold, utilitarian view of other people deeply disturbing.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 6:34 pm |

          I am in no way saying the work or stresses of the surrogate do not count. I am saying that they need to be balanced out with the interests and efforts of the IPs. Granted, in this case the waters are muddier because donor eggs were used, but in the vast 5majority of cases the intended and biological mother has undergone IVF. That process in and of itself is horrendously grueling and stressful, both physically and emotionally. Pregnancy is also hard and even dangerous, I am by no means denying that reality. Ultimately, it’s only something that should be undertaken willingly, after being fully informed both legally and medically.

        3. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 6, 2013 at 4:15 pm |

          EG, stop generalizing to all pregnant people; not everyone bonds with the pregnancy (ps, it’s not a baby yet) anymore than it would be coherent to say no one does. It’s just plain individual.

        4. EG
          EG March 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

          1) Bagelsan, it is absolutely a baby if it is intended to be a baby. That’s part of what makes miscarriage so painful. I always have and always will refer to pregnant women who want and plan to carry to term as carrying babies. You need not, of course, but I have no intention of stopping, so live with it. I realize that it freaks out the religious right to accept that a woman’s desire matters, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s the determining factor.

          2) I took it as read that we were discussing situations in which the pregnant most-likely woman did develop those feelings, because otherwise there would be no conflict, and therefore nothing to discuss. Obviously I should never assume that you are going to take an obvious logical step, however.

        5. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 1:36 am |

          I obviously can’t stop you, but you are in fact using the term “baby” incorrectly. God’s speed on that, and all; certainly a basic working knowledge of biology never did the pro-choice movement any good! :p

        6. Donna L
          Donna L March 7, 2013 at 2:21 am |

          Of course a fetus becomes a baby, in a very real sense, if the person who’s pregnant wants it and loves it and thinks of it that way — it’s thereby imbued with personhood. (After all, I’ve never heard anyone going around saying, “I love my fetus!”) Just as it isn’t a baby if the person who’s pregnant doesn’t want it. It’s each person’s choice how to think of it and what to do or not do, you know? My son was very much a baby to me and my ex when we first saw him on an ultrasound, when he was a little peanut about an inch long. (I still have the picture.) Why do you think people grieve after a miscarriage during a wanted pregnancy? It’s because they lost their baby.

          The problem forced-birthers seem to have is that they’re incapable of grasping that just because a fetus is “really” a baby to them, doesn’t mean they have a right to universalize their experience and force everyone else to share their personal viewpoint. It’s only a baby if it’s yours and you think of it that way. But that doesn’t make its “baby-ness” any less real in that situation.

        7. EG
          EG March 7, 2013 at 9:40 am |

          you are in fact using the term “baby” incorrectly

          This may blow your mind, Bagelsan, so prepare yourself: sometimes words have multiple meanings and uses in different contexts. “Baby” is not some technical scientific term limited to biology. When my mother calls me her “baby” she is not using the term “incorrectly.” She is using a non-biological aspect of the term to correctly illustrate her experience. When the people I know miscarried, they lost babies. When a pregnant woman decides to carry to term and abstains from drinking and takes vitamins and has to do other unpleasant things, she is doing so to take care of her baby.

          Biology is not some be-all and end-all of vocabulary definitions.

          Ambiguity exists in language. That’s the way it is. Godspeed if you wish to deny it, but you’ll still be, what’s the word, incorrect.

        8. Donna L
          Donna L March 7, 2013 at 1:07 pm |

          Thank you, EG. It seems to me that there have been an awful lot of people here recently pontificating with certainty on subjects about which they are clearly and entirely ignorant. Whether it’s this, or somebody insisting that a fetus is an organ, or people insisting that a religious school or other entity has a “First Amendment” right to engage in any kind of employment discrimination they please.

        9. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 4:56 pm |

          Oh please. For starters, this fetus wasn’t wanted, so pre-birth it didn’t count as a “baby” by anyone’s definition. And yeah, sometimes words have multiple definitions but sometimes they mean things and, in the context of an unwanted pregnancy, there isn’t a “baby.” Which is this context.

          But yeah, appeal to what-people-sometimes-say-in-slang and I’ll totally give it the same weight, in a discussion of biology and personhood, as the technical definition. Oh wait, I guess I won’t.

        10. tomek
          tomek March 7, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

          But yeah, appeal to what-people-sometimes-say-in-slang and I’ll totally give it the same weight, in a discussion of biology and personhood, as the technical definition. Oh wait, I guess I won’t.

          bagelsan there is no biological or technical definition of “baby” or “personhood”. these values are the moral values, they are non-scientific. people choose to assign this personhood or babyhood somewhere along the reproductive process, maybe at conception, maybe at birth, maybe half way along.

          there is no science in this.

        11. EG
          EG March 8, 2013 at 11:45 am |

          For starters, this fetus wasn’t wanted, so pre-birth it didn’t count as a “baby” by anyone’s definition.

          Clearly it was wanted, or the surrogate mother wouldn’t have gone to such great lengths to carry it to term.

          And yeah, sometimes words have multiple definitions but sometimes they mean things and, in the context of an unwanted pregnancy, there isn’t a “baby.” Which is this context.

          Except this was a wanted pregnancy, so where you’re getting this “unwanted” bullshit from, I don’t know. If it hadn’t been wanted, she would have aborted, and this whole situation wouldn’t have occurred. Seriously, you’re just making shit up now to fit your desires.

          But yeah, appeal to what-people-sometimes-say-in-slang and I’ll totally give it the same weight, in a discussion of biology and personhood, as the technical definition.

          It’s a good thing we’re not having a discussion of biology, then, isn’t it?

          The multiple meanings of the word “baby” are not slang; they are actual meanings and definitions. Again, biology is not any kind of authority, much less an ultimate one on questions of language, which is why a PhD in Biology earns you absolutely zero credit in studies of language and literature, and we have separate departments for lit crit and linguistics. Appealing to biology is even more absurd than appealing to etymology.

          Further, personhood, which hasn’t been under discussion here, but is again something you’re pulling out of your ass, is not a biological question at all, and has nothing to do with anything we’ve been discussing.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L March 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm |

      And where exactly in this thread did EG use the word “baby” to refer to this, or any other, unwanted fetus during gestation? Nowhere, I believe.

  5. Drahill
    Drahill March 5, 2013 at 2:42 pm |

    Perhaps part of the issue here is that, at least from my reading of the story, Kelley, the surrogate, seems to espouse a fairly pro-life viewpoint from the outset (she did offer to terminate the pregnancy at one point, but recanted it almost immediately). I wonder if the couple who hired her asked her anything pertaining to pregnancy termination prior to the baby’s conception – if they had, would she have espoused her views then and perhaps they’d have realized that, in the event of a fetal abnormaility, this woman was not going to honor their wishes? How much of this could have been resolved if they had screened her a bit more fully? Of course, Kelley could have stated she was fine with abortion before and then changed her mind. But the article makes no mention of any kind of screening she went through beforehand.

    Maybe this is an argument for a more standardized, vigorous screening process for surrogacy to attempt to “match” surrogates to potential couples. It seems like the practice is so cloaked in secrecy and this just encourages people to seek out their own surrogates and sometimes, not get the full picture before they enter into a contract (and pregnancy) with them.

    1. rhian
      rhian March 5, 2013 at 2:56 pm |

      She did sign a contract at the outset agreeing to terminate in the case of severe abnormality. It seems like maybe she just changed her mind once she was actually confronted with the situation.

      1. Drahill
        Drahill March 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

        If you read the CNN story, they note that the contract was basically unable to be enforced because the term “severe fetal abnormality” is vague and doesn’t actually provide any guidance as to when termination should happen. If they wanted to lay out specifics, they could have, but didn’t. And as Jill notes, such a clause would be enforcable anyway because it would mandate consent to a medical procedure.

        1. rhian
          rhian March 5, 2013 at 3:31 pm |

          You asked “I wonder if the couple who hired her asked her anything pertaining to pregnancy termination prior to the baby’s conception”. The contract, enforceable or not, is evidence that they probably did, and that she agreed to it enough to sign her name to it.

        2. Drahill
          Drahill March 5, 2013 at 3:35 pm |

          Actually, that clause is standard boilerplate in surrogacy contracts. The ones that alter it are usually pro-life couples who will press for birth no matter what. My friend pursued surrogacy and I was privy to the contract they had. Their attorney confirmed with me that the language is standard boilerplate. Those who actually negotiate the clause generally provide far more detail.

    2. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 5:23 pm |

      That was my first thought, too. Standard language has a way of making people skim through it…and if it was really discussed fully by all parties involved, they might have been able to get a real feel for the leanings of the other parties. The surrogate would not be as sympathetic to me, personally, if the potential parents would have made it very clear to her “We will NOT care for another child with special needs. If you get pregnant with a child with special needs of x, y, and z type you MUST be willing to terminate.” If she hesitated at all, that would be their warning sign. I feel really badly for all parties involved here b/c it just seems like such a disaster of a situation. I’ve done a lot of research on surrogacy (albeit more than 5 years ago so things have changed massively) and adoption and that research really served to make me fear both options a lot more than I did prior to looking into it.

  6. Athenia
    Athenia March 5, 2013 at 3:04 pm |

    Wow, what a mess indeed. Although I wonder why she didn’t give birth and hand over the kid? She gave it up for adoption anyway, although I guess I can see how emotions can play funny games.

    Anyway, this story just astounds me at how much money must be flying around regarding this whole thing.

    1. Lu
      Lu March 6, 2013 at 11:15 pm |

      The post says that the bio parents planned to surrender the child to the state. She likely wanted to choose who the baby was adopted to, rather than surrender it to the state.

  7. A4
    A4 March 5, 2013 at 3:10 pm |

    The idea of paying someone a bunch of money to carry my child for me and birth it and then give the child to me and never see it again totally horrifies me. I will never do it.

    1. Bagelsan
      Bagelsan March 6, 2013 at 4:17 pm |

      What if they have no emotional attachment to it, and it’s just a job like any other?

      1. Kierra
        Kierra March 6, 2013 at 4:22 pm |

        Bagelsan,

        While I will grant that women like that may exist, how in the world would you be able to screen for that when choosing a surrogate? The surrogate may not even realize the extent to which she may or may not be able to emotionally detach from the pregnancy once she’s in the middle of it.

      2. EG
        EG March 6, 2013 at 4:44 pm |

        What other job is it like that engages every system in your body, 24-7?

        1. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 1:32 am |

          Parenting!

          No, snark aside, the comparison I’m making is to A4’s earlier vehement defense of sex work as “just like any other job.” I don’t see much difference between performing a sexual service and a reproductive one, and yet he’s for one and against the other.

        2. EG
          EG March 7, 2013 at 9:59 am |

          I remember that, and it seems to me a relevant difference that on that thread, there were sex workers making similar arguments. We haven’t heard from anybody who’s carried to term and delivered for pay here. And I’m getting more and more uncomfortable with that, I have to say. It seems like we’re missing a very important set of voices.

        3. A4
          A4 March 7, 2013 at 11:23 am |

          Another relevant difference is the irreversibility of pregnancy in comparison to sex. I can stop having sex at any time. No one can just stop being pregnant. They can have an abortion, but that is no small thing. Pregnancy lasts nine months, and sex lasts a night, if that.

          The issue here for me is consent and bodily autonomy. Consent during sex can be withdrawn and therefore it is not required that once I start having sex with someone I must continue to do so unless there is medical intervention. That is not the case for surrogacy. I don’t believe that a contract signed at the beginning of a surrogate pregnancy and intended to be binding on the surrogate’s bodily decisions for the entire pregnancy can be noncoercive and free of consent issues.

        4. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

          Nope, like you said yourself, a pregnancy can be terminated. Just because your job can’t (easily) be quit immediately doesn’t mean it’s not a job; a nurse couldn’t just drop some clamps mid-operation and walk away, nor could a teacher just walk out of a classroom mid-lesson, but they are both able to quit their jobs — just not at certain moments. Like a pregnancy. Or sex work. Dependent on maintained consent, physically involved, quit-able, and done for money. What’s the difference?

        5. Emolee
          Emolee March 7, 2013 at 5:31 pm |

          a nurse couldn’t just drop some clamps mid-operation and walk away, nor could a teacher just walk out of a classroom mid-lesson,

          Actually, they could and I have seen *both* happen, btw. I mean, there were certainly consequences, but, provided you are not physically restrained, you can always walk away from most jobs, including sex work.

          Pregnancy pretty much takes over your body 24/7 for 10 months. I’m not saying it should definitely not be allowed as a job, just that it certainly needs special considerations. I can’t see it working ethically without the pregnant person being allowed to end the job at any time either by terminating, or by changing the rules of the arrangement so that her parental rights are not contracted away. In which case, I think people would be very wary to employ a commercial surrogate because it would be too risky that she would change her mind (which she should be allowed to do).

        6. Lu
          Lu March 7, 2013 at 5:38 pm |

          Something surrogacy has in common with sex work is that it can be a positive or exploitative experience (or somewhere in between) depending on the circumstances.

          I have a lot of concerns about outsourcing surrogacy to poorer countries, especially without strong laws to protect the interests of the surrogates. I’m not opposed to surrogacy in general.

        7. EG
          EG March 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

          a nurse couldn’t just drop some clamps mid-operation and walk away, nor could a teacher just walk out of a classroom mid-lesson

          Sure, they could. Most of them wouldn’t, but nothing actually physically prevents them from doing so. They don’t have to see a specialist to quit.

    2. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date March 6, 2013 at 6:46 pm |

      The idea of paying someone a bunch of money to carry my child for me and birth it and then give the child to me and never see it again totally horrifies me. I will never do it.

      Good news! You don’t have to!

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 6:54 pm |

        No joke PMED.

        Since when is the yardstick of reasonableness the subjective opinion of random strangers on the internet? This line of logic gets troted out all the time by the anti-choicers, well I would never have an abortion, so it should be illegal for everyone! You don’t want to have kids, or have an abortion, or do IVF, or resort to surrogacy, or be a surrogate? Alrighty then, good for you !

        Just don’t feel free to impose those opinions upon others.

    3. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 6:53 pm |

      And since you don’t have to do that, the purpose of this exclamation was….?

    4. A4
      A4 March 6, 2013 at 10:26 pm |

      Thanks for all the snarky replies guys. Now allow me to give a little background.

      I’m a gay man with four older siblings, three of whom are married and recently procreating. The expectation of my family and society in general is that at a certain point in life I’m supposed create a family. I’m supposed to adopt (super expensive, incredibly lengthy process, a lot of discrimination involved) or I can hire a surrogate.

      The pressure is very present in my life that I am supposed to procure a baby for myself somehow, and surrogacy is often trotted out as a perfectly reasonable option.

      So this is my response to all of that. I don’t think surrogacy is reasonable. The idea of reaching a certain point in my life where I go “Well, time to find a woman to pay to bear me a child” repulses me.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 11:08 pm |

        And again, your surrogate has to never ever see the child again because…? You have to pay your surrogate because…?

        Valoniel’s offered to be a surrogate for her best friend, who For Reasons might not be able to carry a pregnancy to term. If it were to happen, it’d be an open surrogacy, and we wouldn’t dream of taking money from them. And obviously we’d watch the kid grow up, being Aunt By Association and all. Your assumptions on surrogacy, they are assumptions.

        The idea of reaching a certain point in my life where I go “Well, time to find a woman to pay to bear me a child” repulses me.

        Frankly, it sounds like it’s the kid-having that repulses you, and “ew”ing at surrogacy is a nice eliding move. You know you don’t have to have a kid if you don’t want to, right?

        1. A4
          A4 March 7, 2013 at 7:53 am |

          Frankly, you are totally wrong. Totally and completely wrong. Having a kid doesn’t repulse me. Having a kid is totally cool, and scary, and wonderful, and amazing. Babies are precious and adorable, and so are toddlers, and so are five year olds, and eight year olds, and eleven year old and everything in between.

          Valoniel’s offered to be a surrogate for her best friend, who For Reasons might not be able to carry a pregnancy to term. If it were to happen, it’d be an open surrogacy, and we wouldn’t dream of taking money from them. And obviously we’d watch the kid grow up, being Aunt By Association and all.

          That’s great. And that’s exactly the situation I’ve talked about elsewhere in this thread as how I think surrogacy should happen. But most people who talk to me about surrogacy don’t have that in mind. Most people who casually suggest surrogacy think of it as a paid service governed by contracts and subject to court proceedings (Like this case! IN the article right here that we’re discussing!) and that is the norm that repulses me. I think it’s laden with misogyny and stems from the idea that women’s bodies are available for public use and regulation.

        2. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 5:02 pm |

          So doing reproductive work for money squicks you. So it shouldn’t exist why?

        3. tomek
          tomek March 7, 2013 at 6:20 pm |

          a4 correct me if am wrong but were not you arguing the counter position in the sex work discussion?

          either pick the side civil liberty or pick the side of morality governing what people are allowed to do. do not switch from side to side like this or you do us all disservice.

        4. jemima101
          jemima101 March 7, 2013 at 7:26 pm |
  8. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 3:20 pm |

    Illinois has what is considered one of the most progressive surogacy statutes on the books . It does an excellent job of spelling out what is often left as grey area in many other jurisdictions, as well as spelling out very specific screening requirements for surogates.

    This whole case sounds pretty horrible. The surrogate did herself no favors as she had no other means of supporting herself and her own children and depended solely on her surrogacy fees. As an aside, she also actively posted on a mommy board I used to frequent about her surrogacy and posted there for logistical and monetary help in fleeing to Michigan. Personally, I don’t understand why she signed the surrogacy contract she did if she disagreed with entire portions of it. Either renegotiate or don’t go forward with the arrangement.

    1. Drahill
      Drahill March 5, 2013 at 3:32 pm |

      The contract’s language actually favored the surrogate in this case, as the article notes. The contract only called for abortion in cases of “severe fetal abnormality.” That term was too vague to actually make any determination of breach or anything else.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

        Pursuant to section25(d)(1) of the Illinois Surrogacy Act, that provision would likely be enforceable. The Act certainly does not have any provisions explicitly forbidding the intended parents from requiring a termination for conditions incompatible with life (and Illinois law permits terminations up until 24 weeks without restrictions.) Of course, all of it is open to interpretation, but it’s yet another takeaway of this story to insure one does all the necessary vetting of the parties and to make sure all bases are covered during the negotiation process. And to undertake the surrogacy in a state like Illinois to insure that there are as few legal grey areas as possible.

        1. tinfoil hattie
          tinfoil hattie March 5, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

          @Jill, that’s what galls me. No court in America would make you have an abortion, but – forced pregnancy? Why, of COURSE!

          Sigh.

    2. snorkellingfish
      snorkellingfish March 5, 2013 at 5:27 pm |

      The surrogate did herself no favors as she had no other means of supporting herself and her own children and depended solely on her surrogacy fees.

      I think this part is my main discomfort with surrogacy, to be honest. I don’t have an issue with a person choosing to carry a baby for another couple for money, but I hate how women might feel coerced into it by lack of other options. I don’t think there’s an easy solution, though. Banning surrogacy wouldn’t fix the economic inequalities that might cause a woman to choose to be a surrogate; it would just give her one less way out of her situation. I wish that there was a stronger welfare net so that things like surrogacy were always a free choice.

  9. pheenobarbidoll
    pheenobarbidoll March 5, 2013 at 5:24 pm |

    If you don’t believe in abortion then find a surrogacy program that caters to pro life people.If you’re in breach of contract then you’re responsible for the result of that breach. Making the people who did not breach the contract be responsible is shifty and shitty IMO. Topping that off with refusing them a choice in how they deal with the consequences you forced onto them by breaking the contract is even worse.

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue March 5, 2013 at 5:56 pm |

      From the story it sounds like she was having trouble finding parents to hire her has a surrogate at all, so being precise about whether the contract was anti-abortion or not probably wasn’t an option for her (especially since she probably had no reason to think that abortion would come up at all).

      1. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll March 5, 2013 at 7:49 pm |

        She had the option of refusing. Sorry, but this isn’t like hiring yourself out as a stand up comic and then breaching your contract. She wasn’t prepared to sacrifice HER existing childrens lives over the fetus she insisted on carrying, and instead expected the bio parents to take that on. And when they made the decision that they weren’t going to do what she herself wasn’t willing to do, she decided their decision wasn’t correct either and left to another state. The only people forced into anything were the couple that did not breach the contract.

        That’s fucked up. And it’s all on her. She went into this deal eyes open and experienced. And expected everyone else to take all the risks she wasn’t willing to take on.

        1. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 12:11 am |

          I have two issues here:

          1) It’s her body. She should be able to decide what to do with it. That includes not terminating a pregnancy. It’s freakin’ unethical that the intended parents felt entitled to order her to terminate (as opposed to calmly discuss a solution amenable to all parties) and, I think, says a lot about how they were using her as a warm body and not a person. Especially when it was a relatively late abortion (after twenty weeks), which carries additional risks.

          2) Is it really possible to say that it’s all on her and that she had the freedom to make a truly autonomous choice when she felt unable to feed herself and her kids? I think I said elsewhere in the thread that one of my greatest discomforts with commercial surrogacy is that it’s hard to see it as entirely voluntary when a lot of surrogates are under that degree of economic duress. I don’t think the solution is to ban surrogacy (since that just leaves the surrogate mothers without a way out of their economic hardships), but I do think that a society that creates that level of economic disparities has to take some responsibility rather than blame the people who are just trying to survive.

      2. igglanova
        igglanova March 5, 2013 at 8:20 pm |

        Eh, I don’t know. ‘What if the pregnancy goes awry’ is really one of the first things you’d think about when considering surrogacy, not to mention the fact that termination was discussed in the actual contract. The surrogate either did not bother to read the contract, or she decided that the other parties’ expressed wishes could be violated at will. That’s pretty shitty and irresponsible.

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 8:26 pm |

          Yeah force the bitch to give birth…or abort, tick box at will

          Seriously am I reading this bull shit on a feminist blog, are people really saying a woman’s reproductive rights can be bought?

        2. igglanova
          igglanova March 5, 2013 at 10:53 pm |

          Yeah force the bitch to give birth…or abort, tick box at will

          Give me a goddamn break. Nobody has said anything even close to this but you. Even if this contract was legally binding, the surrogate would always have the option to keep the fetus but opt out of receiving the payment. Nobody should be obliged to pay someone after they’ve violated the contract.

          Seriously am I reading this bull shit on a feminist blog, are people really saying a woman’s reproductive rights can be bought?

          Indeed you are not.

        3. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 11:19 pm |

          I agree that it is a terrible idea to force a person to give birth or to force a person to have an abortion. But on the other hand, a person can’t very well put a lot of effort into selling her reproductive capabilities (as she did) and then act appalled that those capabilities were then purchased. She was a willing signature to the contract and, as an adult, she should not have agreed to the contract if she was not willing to abide by it. You can’t get pregnant and then claim to feel forced to either have an abortion or give birth…what are your other options? Once you are pregnant (esp. when you chose to do it with someone else’s intended baby/spawn/fetus), you kind of have to do one or the other…and it doesn’t just affect the surrogate in this case. That’s partially why surrogacy contracts are so controversial.

        4. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 11:23 pm |

          Even if this contract was legally binding, the surrogate would always have the option to keep the fetus but opt out of receiving the payment. Nobody should be obliged to pay someone after they’ve violated the contract.

          I absolutely agree on this. They shouldn’t have to pay her for a child she had that they wanted her not to have.

        5. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 11:34 pm |

          So, the surrogate gets to do whatever she wants with her body…but she didn’t actually want to raise the child. Let’s say that she couldn’t find an adoptive couple to raise a child with such high intensity needs (esp in a country like the US, where health needs like this are VERY expensive and could bring even a financially stable family into bankruptcy)…what happens then? Then there is potentially this very needy infant with no one stepping forward and no one willing to be a parent. Should the law force the surrogate to be the parent in that case? Or should the intended parents be forced to care for the child? Or should the child go to the state…in which case, WTF?

        6. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm |

          Just wanted to say, the above questions were just pondering sorts of questions about the legal implications of these types of situations re: child custody.

        7. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 12:01 am |

          My only issue with the whole “the intended parents shouldn’t have to pay if she breaks the contract” thing is that pregnancy and childbirth are expensive (especially in countries like the US that don’t offer universal healthcare). I don’t know if it’s fair to expect her to carry those costs herself, especially when they were the reason she became pregnant.

          I find it really disturbing that it’s even a term in the contract for the intended parents to be able to compel termination. They shouldn’t be able to use her economic struggles to pressure her to give up her basic right of choosing whether to continue a pregnancy. It also makes me feel icky that they can use an unethical term to refuse to pay her when she’s basically done what they paid her to do.

          In terms of raising the baby, I guess I don’t see it as that different to a normal situation where a woman gets pregnant, the father wants to terminate and the mother doesn’t. The mother’s rights take precedence while the baby is inside her, because it’s her body and her choice. Once the baby’s born, the father will still have a responsibility towards the baby. In this case, the intended parents wanted the surrogate mother to terminate, but she didn’t want to. The intended parents should still be responsible for the child (if the surrogate mother doesn’t want to raise it herself – if she did, that would raise a different sent of issues).

        8. igglanova
          igglanova March 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm |

          My only issue with the whole “the intended parents shouldn’t have to pay if she breaks the contract” thing is that pregnancy and childbirth are expensive (especially in countries like the US that don’t offer universal healthcare). I don’t know if it’s fair to expect her to carry those costs herself, especially when they were the reason she became pregnant.

          Yeah, I don’t really like it either. But this was a risk she chose to take. Someone has to pay – ideally, that would be a socialized medical system, but in the end, it is more fair to make the violator of the contract pay than the ‘wronged’ party. Otherwise, we end up with an unacceptable possibility for exploitation.

        9. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll March 6, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

          Yeah force the bitch to give birth…or abort, tick box at will

          Ha, no. No one forced her to pick up a phone and start SEARCHING for people who wanted a surrogate. She specifically requested these people be found and given her name. That’s not force, and it’s certainly not force on their part. They were sought out.

          That’s like saying I chased you down, convinced you to give me your car keys and then claimed you forced me to either drive or not drive your car.

        10. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

          Someone has to pay – ideally, that would be a socialized medical system, but in the end, it is more fair to make the violator of the contract pay than the ‘wronged’ party.

          From what I remember of contract law, I’m not sure if it’s that simple. The surrogate mother’s breach of the contractual clause requiring an abortion gives the intended parents the right to damages, but only gives them a right to terminate the whole contract if what she breached was a condition or an essential term of the contract. I don’t think that clause would necessarily be characterised as a condition, which would entitle her to insist that the contract is still on foot. Even if it wasn’t, she might still be able to argue that she deserves to be compensated for the work she did under the contract, possibly using a restitution claim for unjust enrichment. (Refusing to give the intended the parents the child would definitely be breach of a condition, though, so I agree that the intended parents shouldn’t have to pay after that.)

          In terms of whether the intended parents could get damages for her breach of contract in continuing the pregnancy, that would depend a lot on state law – it sounds like a question of wrongful birth and a lot of states are really uncomfortable with the idea that the birth of a child can ever be a legal wrong. There are also the issues of bodily autonomy and whether it should be legal to contractually compel someone to have an abortion.

          That said, it’s been a few years since I studied contract law, so someone more experienced or who has knowledge of the specifics of contract law in the US rather than general common law principles should correct me if I’m wrong (which is likely).

  10. Kes
    Kes March 5, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

    It seems to me that there’s a lot more going on here than just the question of surrogacy. If the “mother” wasn’t the bio-mother of the child, then what was her motivation in locating/paying a surrogate rather than locating/paying for a private adoption? Something is going on to make it VERY important in that family for the father to have his own genetic material involved in the child.

    So at the end of the day we have a man who took one woman’s egg, had a second woman carry his baby, and a third woman on hand to raise it. Tell me there isn’t something seriously messed up about that.

    It makes me a little uncomfortable that there’s so much focus here on the surrogate and her decisions. According to the articles I’ve read she was pretty much broke and trying to support 2 kids, and she muddled through as best she could. Why is she being subjected to so much scrutiny over this on a feminist blog? The giant elephant in the picture here is the father, whose apparent need to have a child with HIS genes affected the bodies/lives of four women (the egg donor, the surrogate, the wife, and the daughter).

    1. Louise
      Louise March 5, 2013 at 8:25 pm |

      My understanding was that the embryos were left over from the IVF procedures used to conceive the couple’s three children. So perhaps the initial intent in the creation of the embryos with donor egg/husband sperm was for the wife to carry them, but she was unable to have additional pregnancies.

    2. Ann R
      Ann R March 5, 2013 at 9:23 pm |

      So at the end of the day we have a man who took one woman’s egg, had a second woman carry his baby, and a third woman on hand to raise it. Tell me there isn’t something seriously messed up about that.

      I don’t really think this is fair. It seems to assume that this was all the man’s decision and that the wife in this case didn’t also have an interest in the child. Maybe the wife wanted the child to have the husband’s DNA? Maybe the couple had found an egg donor with similar physical attributes as the wife so that the children would look similar in appearance? I’m not saying I agree with this, but I would argue the couple have the right to do this. I don’t see anywhere that this was all about this man using women to solely to produce a child for him.

    3. A4
      A4 March 5, 2013 at 11:48 pm |

      I am in full agreement with you on this.

      1. Kathleen
        Kathleen March 6, 2013 at 1:06 am |

        Yup. Right on, Kes.

    4. Past my expiration date
      Past my expiration date March 6, 2013 at 6:44 pm |

      If the “mother” wasn’t the bio-mother of the child, then what was her motivation in locating/paying a surrogate rather than locating/paying for a private adoption?

      I don’t know. Do you? More importantly, why is it relevant?

  11. Whose body is it anyway? | It's Just A Hobby

    […] I first commented  on this story on feminste I was quickly reminded as a sex worker I must support the right of a woman to be a surrogate. (It […]

  12. jemima101
    jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 5:44 pm |

    http://itsjustahobby.wordpress.com/2013/03/05/whose-body-is-it-anyway-2/

    I ended up blogging on how for me pro choice means only the surrogate can have any rights.

    1. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue March 5, 2013 at 6:04 pm |

      Thanks, this article makes a lot of sense to me. While I can understand the biological parents wanting a humane outcome for their child, ultimately they’re trying to get that by taking control of another woman’s body, and I can’t see that as OK no matter what contract they signed.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

        Thanks, that is pretty much my take, pro choice has to be all the way

      2. EG
        EG March 5, 2013 at 6:33 pm |

        It doesn’t make sense to me to refer to them as the “biological” parents. Surely pregnancy is biological?

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 6:41 pm |

          Really, EG?

          I don’t get that question, at all. Would you be so unforgiving in an adoption setting of the interests of the bio parents? Because that line of reasoning has been trotted out since forever to impede and even sever the rights of biologicaly related parents to their children.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 7:03 pm |

          I mean, the embryo/fetus is more often than not the genetic offspring of the IP. That does mean something extremely significant to most folks. I sort of understand the inclination to downplay that relationship when adoption especially is concerned. But it is an extremely dangerous path to go down in light of how that downplaying has in the past and continues even today as a way to undercut the rights of people to their own children.

        3. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue March 5, 2013 at 7:21 pm |

          Lolagirl, I think EG’s point is that it doesn’t make sense to call the parents who hired the surrogate “biological” as a way of contrasting them with the surrogate mother, since pregnancy is biological too.

          EG, I think you’re right and I apologize. Calling them biological parents was not being careful with my language.

        4. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

          And yet erasing the genetic relationship between the parties is totally fine and acceptable somehow?

          Because that is appalling, regardless of whether the setting is adoption or surrogacy.

        5. EG
          EG March 5, 2013 at 8:31 pm |

          How is it erasing the genetic relationship to point out that all three people involved have a biological relationship to the child, and that therefore, you shouldn’t differentiate the “surrogate” mother (as if that’s not a loaded term) from the other two by calling the other two “biological.” If you want to emphasize the genetic relationship, call them the genetic parents.

        6. Emolee
          Emolee March 5, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

          Good point. Going in, I would have said that the woman carrying the fetus should be the only one with a say in whether to abort or carry to term. But I also would have said that the genetic parents should have primary rights after the baby was born. However, your point is well taken that discounting pregnancy and birth as less important than the contribution genetic material in determining connection to an already born baby is misogynistic. The pregnant woman grew that baby with her body.

        7. Lu
          Lu March 6, 2013 at 11:31 pm |

          Certainly the surrogate has a strong biological (though not genetic) relationship with the baby as it was the surrogate’s blood that nourished it in the womb.

          I feel like this could be seen in much the same way as a more standard custody battle between mother and father, but with an extra party added (the surrogate).

  13. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

    Aaaand this thread is exactly why I really fucking hate discussions around anything except heterosexual unaided pregnancies.

    Because…adoption? You’re clearly a racist who’s just SNATCHING kids. Surrogacy? HDU, you’re practically raping women (don’t believe this is an actual argument? Go look at articles about surrogacy by certain radical feminists). Foster care? You MUST be a money-grubbing abuser. Step-parenting? You’re DEFINITELY an evil stepmother/rapey stepfather/gold-digging bitch/child-hating prick. Gay parenting? You’re sending your kids STRAIGHT to hell! Fertility treatments? Ugh HDU not accept God’s plan!

    Yeah, you know, what the fuck ever. I get it. Heteromonogamousmarried parenting is the only kind that’s Correct. On the whole I’ll just sit over here in Step-parent Corner and resent the shit out of everybody outside my four walls.

    Re: this case – the couple shouldn’t have to raise a kid they don’t want to and should not under any circumstances be unwillingly saddled with this kid. The surrogate can do whatever she damn well pleases with her body and the fetus in it, including carry it to term, and no, I don’t give a fuck about contracts, it’s her body and her choice. (Also what kind of asshole decides to dictate abortion terms for a pregnancy someone else is going to have? If you don’t want the kid, by all means don’t take it, but nobody gets to force someone to abort any kid, no matter what.)

    1. jemima101
      jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 7:44 pm |

      I love you <3

    2. A4
      A4 March 5, 2013 at 11:51 pm |

      YAY MAC and thank you.

    3. karak
      karak March 6, 2013 at 1:31 am |

      Just because it’s her body doesn’t make it her kid, and she knew that very well. No one should compel you to have an abortion–but the fact she refused to have one and fled to the state and created a miserable clusterfuck is on her.

      Excercising your moral rights to your body and autonomy doesn’t mean you can’t be an asshole while doing so.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 1:38 am |

        Excercising your moral rights to your body and autonomy doesn’t mean you can’t be an asshole while doing so.

        Oh god no, I never meant to say she’s not an asshole! I was pushing back against the comments thread, here and elsewhere basically. I think she’s a douche of epic proportions – exactly like the genetic father and formerly-prospective-adoptive mother. I think that the only people here who aren’t douchetastic fucknuts are the unknown egg donor, the adoptive mother (hopefully, fuck, I hope!) and the baby. Deciding to fuck off to Michigan etc was totally an asshole move on her part; if she refused to abort the baby, fine, bodily autonomy, legal right to pregnancy completion etc, but she should have turned it over to the “bio” parents to surrender to the state as THEY wanted in that case. This was a patently obvious money grab and I’m not supporting it for one second.

        1. Drahill
          Drahill March 6, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

          Eh, I can forgive her for the Michigan thing. The article says that the bio-parents stated that they would turn the baby over to the state if she were returned to them. So basically, the foster care system. I’m not sure how familar you are with the foster case system in the United States, but, uh, it sucks. Big time. It sucks even worse if you are a special needs kid, because your chances of adoption are next to nothing. By going to Michigan, she basically ensured that the foster care system could be bypassed and that a private adoption could be arranged. frankly, I’m not going to hold it against anybody who wants to keep a kid (especially such a vulnerable kid) out of a system that’s basically notorious for how hard it is to get out.

  14. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 7:34 pm |

    Well, having read the thread, can I just say that I find the fact that there’s an actual DEBATE happening in these comments about whether or not two random others have a RIGHT to compel a pregnant woman to abort (or continue) a pregnancy repellent as all fuck.

    1. Lolagirl
      Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 7:39 pm |

      Mac, don’t get me wrong. I’m not down with compelling abortion either. I’m equally appalled at that part of the story as I am by the surrogate’s attempt to circumvent the surrogacy arrangement by fleeing to Michigan the way she did.

      1. jemima101
        jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm |

        Appalled by a woman not wanting others to have the right to tell her what to do with her body? No state should have a law that allows the prospective parents to have any rights over the surrogate.

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 5, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

          Did you read the story linked above? The surrogate intended and actually did put her own name on the birth certificatr and left off the bio father. She went to Michigan specifically because she knew the law there would permit her to do so. I am also appalled at her, in effect, claiming this baby as her own genetic offspring even though it wasn’t.

          I get that some people find zero imprortance or value in genetic relationships between others. But I vehemently disagree with that, for reasons I have already spelled out in this discussion.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 8:04 pm |

          I did not say genetic relationships do not matter, but in your world people can tell a woman when she can, or cannot have an abortion, sorry but that is a world i refuse to live in. Donating cells does not make someone a parent. Every man who insists that he has a right to decide that a pregnant partner has to take his wishes into consideration argues about genetics.

          Her body, her choice, if the couple had respected that she would not have had to move.

        3. trees
          trees March 5, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

          I agree with the argument that the surrogate has a right to her bodily autonomy.

          When the fetus becomes a newborn, how do you factor in the interests of the genetic parents? Does the baby have three parents? Does the contract come into play at that point?

        4. jemima101
          jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 8:35 pm |

          I go with the UK law here, no one has the right to a child except the person who squeezes it out of her vagina, and then the person named as father on the birth certificate.
          Our surrogacy law says the non birth parents have to apply for parental responsibility, which is granted by the courts. Which also gives the child the same protections of any other adopted child. Payment other than for expenses is banned since you can neither buy a child nor tell another human what to do with their body.

          I am very confused as to the amount of importance given to what is basically a sperm donor here. Perhaps it is a cultural thing. If i have a one night stand does the guy have the right to decide what I do next…cos down that road lies him deciding whether I can even use contraception in the first place.

        5. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 8:27 pm |

          When the fetus becomes a newborn, how do you factor in the interests of the genetic parents? Does the baby have three parents? Does the contract come into play at that point?

          Thorny subject.

          Personally, I’d say that the surrogate gets “dibs”, if I might be vulgar, as the carrier of the child, but everyone has different notions and I don’t claim to be invested enough in this matter to have a real generalised opinion.

        6. jemima101
          jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

          Simple, you push it out (other forms of birth are available) it is yours, (in an incredibly reductive sense, cos kids are not ever ours) seriously, women have been abused and oppressed throughout history because they have been seen as mere vessels for the line.

          I really think several people here need to read this.

          http://www.amazon.co.uk/Handmaids-Tale-Vintage-Classics/dp/0099511665

        7. EG
          EG March 5, 2013 at 8:32 pm |

          I don’t really see what the problem is with having three legal parents. Why not?

        8. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date March 5, 2013 at 8:42 pm |

          Simple, you push it out (other forms of birth are available) it is yours,

          If you get a C-section, it is not yours?

        9. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

          I don’t really see what the problem is with having three legal parents. Why not?

          Honestly, I don’t see a problem either. A lot of shit in many stepparents’ lives would be easier if they could be a legal parent, for example. And it’s not like three parents gives you a higher chance of abuse than two, or something…

        10. EG
          EG March 5, 2013 at 8:51 pm |

          I suspect it would be lower rates of abuse, because there would be more oversight among the various parents.

        11. trees
          trees March 5, 2013 at 9:00 pm |

          Read the Handmaids Tale, ages ago in fact, and I’m fully cognizant of the history of reproductive oppression.

          This issue hardly seems simple and straightforward. The UK approach, as you describe it, makes a lot of sense. The genetic parents in a surrogacy agreement aren’t really analogous to a sperm donor, who forfeits all connection to any potential offspring. Again, I fully support the pregnant person’s bodily autonomy, but the wholly separate baby has one in utero parent, and two genetic and intended parents.

        12. karak
          karak March 6, 2013 at 1:37 am |

          I am appalled. She agreed to use her body as a vehicle for others to use in a very specific context. No one should force you to have an abortion–by the same token, if she was aware she would never have an abortion (or felt morally ambiguous or uncertain about it), she should not have agreed to carry someone else’s fetus.

          Now there’s this poor sick kid that no-one wants, no-one can take care of, who won’t live long. I am perfectly capable of holding the ideology she cannot be compelled to have an abortion along with an ideology you shouldn’t agree to carry someone else’s child if you’re not willing to accept the fact it’s their fetus and their decisions go.

        13. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 1:55 am |

          I am perfectly capable of holding the ideology she cannot be compelled to have an abortion along with an ideology you shouldn’t agree to carry someone else’s child if you’re not willing to accept the fact it’s their fetus and their decisions go.

          And I hold that opinion too. Honestly, on giving it a closer reread (I initially assumed she was pro-life and starry-eyed), what REALLY galls me about this situation is that she didn’t even want to keep the child. I can get behind a surrogate deciding to raise a child the bioparents (“bioparents” in this case) didn’t want for whatever reason. You know, that’s what you want to do, go right ahead, your body your choice. It’s the farming the kid out to some random stranger, and refusing to surrender it to the “bio”parents while ALSO not keeping it that absolutely convinces me this surrogate’s an epic douche.

        14. SophiaBlue
          SophiaBlue March 6, 2013 at 3:55 am |

          It’s the farming the kid out to some random stranger, and refusing to surrender it to the “bio”parents while ALSO not keeping it that absolutely convinces me this surrogate’s an epic douche.

          But the genetic parents were saying they were going to take custody of the child and then surrender her to the state. Given that, I can see why the surrogate mother wouldn’t want the genetic parents to have custody.

          I am perfectly capable of holding the ideology she cannot be compelled to have an abortion along with an ideology you shouldn’t agree to carry someone else’s child if you’re not willing to accept the fact it’s their fetus and their decisions go.

          If you say that it’s their child and their decisions go, how do you avoid forcing an abortion (or a birth, for that matter) if that’s what the genetic parents want?

      2. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 8:13 pm |

        I get that you’re not down with that, Lola, but I really do think that in this context, “rights of the genetic parents” as a term isn’t something anyone needs to bring up except in the interest of saying “they shouldn’t have to raise a child they don’t want”. So, while you’re not making a forced-abortion argument, even bringing up genetic-parent rights is a derail, to me. They don’t want this child. By a stroke of luck, morbid though it may be, they get to not have this child! Woo, problem solved.

    2. jemima101
      jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 7:41 pm |

      yeah…disturbing the rights people think money can buy, this was basically what i said in my blog post. The couple can go fuck themselves, only one person gets to determine whether she wants to be pregnant or not.

      Imagine if an MRA had offered his pregnant partner money to have an abortion because he had the right not to be a father?

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 8:14 pm |

        Imagine if an MRA had offered his pregnant partner money to have an abortion because he had the right not to be a father?

        Yes, well, he’s a MAN. Then it’s black and white and shit.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L March 5, 2013 at 10:19 pm |

      Donating cells does not make someone a parent.

      Neither does giving birth. Your argument works both ways.

      In this particular case, a plague on everyone’s house. They all acted reprehensibly, in one way or another.

      I do agree that a woman who gives birth to a baby is a “biological” parent as much as anyone else. It reminds me of those who tell me I’m not a biological woman. As if I’m not a carbon-based life form.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 10:29 pm |

        Er…Donna? Did you mean to reply to me? I don’t see that I said anything of the sort…

        It reminds me of those who tell me I’m not a biological woman. As if I’m not a carbon-based life form.

        Well, I suppose they’re trying to say you weren’t FAAB, but… wtf, that is beyond rude as a phrasing.

        (It’s really beginning to sink into me exactly how much transphobia is predicated on giving people shit for things that the transphobe would easily adjust to in a cis person. Just…ugh.)

        1. Donna L
          Donna L March 5, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

          No, I was replying to jemima — she’s the one who said that. And I thought it was a ridiculous comment, because exactly the same thing applies (or doesn’t apply) to anyone for anything that happens before birth.

      2. EG
        EG March 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

        I don’t know, I think that both genetics and birth make a person a parent. That parent can then give up zir role and relationship, or through zir conduct prove zirself not to be a parent after all. But…yes, pregnancy and birth do make you a parent. So do genetics. So does care. It’s not–or it shouldn’t be–a zero-sum game.

        1. Donna L
          Donna L March 5, 2013 at 10:51 pm |

          I can go along with that. My point was that either it’s true of both or not true of both. I don’t think it’s fair to say that one “makes you a parent” 100%, and the other one doesn’t at all. In both cases, what happens afterwards is more important.

  15. macavitykitsune
    macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 7:57 pm |

    I also really wanted to address this:

    can also understand from the parents’ perspective that they were already raising one special needs child and both could not fathom raising another one and also thought it would be more ethical to terminate the pregnancy than to put a baby through extensive medical interventions.

    Sure! I’d do the same. If it were MY pregnancy. If someone came to me for advice, I would advise that (particularly since this baby seems to be dying anyway; it’s not like a Down’s kid or an autistic kid or someone who could conceivably live decades relatively comfortably). However, I do not believe that anyone or any institution should have the moral or legal right to tell someone to abort a pregnancy. No matter how sick the kid is, no matter how many months/days it’s going to live. Nope.

    1. jemima101
      jemima101 March 5, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

      I actually live with this, I have a thing, trans-located chromosomes, it means that i have a 50% chance of having a child with very similar problems to the child in this case. With each of my pregnancies great thought was given to what the choice would be if the results showed the fetus had abnormalities. Both times I decided that I would carry carry to term, and was incredibly lucky to have 2 healthy children.

      It is an incredibly personal decision, and no one can make it for another person. My partner supported me and made very clear that as he did not have to carry the child, or give birth, that it was my decisions. This to me is what pro choice means. Yes, the fetus was genetically his, but he did not have to carry it, he understood that he has no right to tell me what to do with my body.

      1. macavitykitsune
        macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 10:32 pm |

        Yes, exactly.

        I’m starting to think that “carrier-centric” is a better term to describe my orientation re: reproductive rights than “pro-choice”. I’m not pro everyone’s choice. (Also, the term doesn’t erase non-binary/trans people, so that’s a bonus.)

        1. jemima101
          jemima101 March 6, 2013 at 8:30 pm |

          Time zones mean i get to this stuff and cant reply to loads but yes, i like carrier centric, i have a friend who describes hir self as the reproductive vessel in hir relationship, ze was basically the person with the womb. Calling that mother or motherhood does not fit with hir or hir partner.

  16. tomek
    tomek March 5, 2013 at 8:40 pm |

    i do not understand why this situation have come about. as i understand it, genetic parents did not want to take care of child, and so wanted sorragate mother to terminate pregnancy.

    sorragate mother refuse, which should be her right. genetic parent say they give up the parent rights to the child, which should also be there right. and then at this point sorragate mother would have had child herself and give it up for adoption to internet woman which she planned to do. in this scenario, everyone has won. sorragate mother has had choice of not to have abortion, and genetic parents have had choice of not to raise child. (and internet woman has got child!)

    why after this point is all layers getting involved to mess things up and demand custody or something? why are genetic parents petition for parental rights in conneticat when they do not even want child in the first place!!

    can someone explain genetic parents action here with layers?

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 5, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

      why are genetic parents petition for parental rights in conneticat when they do not even want child in the first place!!

      Asshattery.

      Seriously, with how totally win-win this scenario has been, I fail to understand what the big deal is. Aside from that this is working as a FANTASTIC litmus test for the “pro-choice BUT” group.

    2. snorkellingfish
      snorkellingfish March 5, 2013 at 11:44 pm |

      As I understand it, the issue for the intended parents is that they didn’t feel able to raise another child with disabilities but they didn’t want to not know their child if it was born. The easiest solution there would have been to terminate the pregnancy, if the surrogate mother had been on board with that. She wasn’t, which meant there was no way for everyone to get what they wanted. The intended parents couldn’t have it both ways: the right thing to do would be to decide between raising their child despite her disabilities or to look into other options for placing the child (and pay the surrogate either way). Instead, they did the reprehensible thing and tried to coerce the surrogate, which is inexcusable.

      I don’t think it’s clear from the article that the intended parents actually agreed to the adoption. The surrogate mother deliberately moved to a state where they’d have no parenting rights and then gave the child up for adoption to a third party. I got the impression that, once the child was born, the intended parents did want to know her and raise her, but settled for visitation as continuing to battle it out in the courts would risk them not being able to see her at all. Others might interpret the article differently. I do wonder if, in the circumstances, the best thing to do might have been to allow the intended parents to raise the child (assuming it was possible to trust that they wouldn’t follow through on the threat to put the child into care). YMMV.

      But I think the big deal is that reprehensible act of trying to coerce the surrogate. Because it’s an uncomfortable situation – it’s easy to understand why the intended parents resources might not feel able to raise a very sick baby given the children with disabilities they already had while also strongly believing that the surrogate mother has every right to make her own bodily choices. The fact that there was money involved and that it created such a power differential makes that worse. There was no easy solution, but the intended parents managed to fuck everything up and make it so much worse.

    3. Tomek Kulesza
      Tomek Kulesza March 6, 2013 at 8:07 am |

      On a side note, i wanted to say that i am not the same person as Tomek, and from my fast glimpse of his posts we don’t have much in common. Except, likely, being from the same country, since our first names are Polish.

      (I wanted to clarify that since i noticed Mxe saying we’re probably the same person)

    4. Athenia
      Athenia March 7, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

      I’m sure with all the emotions flying around, they may have gotten to a point where they just did not want the surrogate in full control of the decisions for what would happen with the baby–regardless if they were going to be the parents or someone else.

  17. A4
    A4 March 6, 2013 at 12:08 am |

    This entire story about a surrogate mother, Chrystal Kelley, and her severe abnormalities, is disturbing and heartbreaking. A low-income woman, desperate for money, agreed to contract the use of her body for child production for a wealthier family, something she had done before. Everyone was excited. Then, an ultrasound showed Kelley had several abnormalities — heart problems, organ problems. The parents, who had given birth to two premature babies before and knew the difficulties of raising children with health issues, wanted Kelley to have surgery. Kelley did not.

    Just thought I’d rewrite the first paragraph a little, get rid of the mind/body dualism and the separation between a woman’s body and a fetus. I think it has a certain clarity this way.

    1. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 1:27 am |

      Though honestly, that paragraph kind of obscures the douchebaggery of the surrogate. Who (don’t mistake me by my other comments) is a massive douchebag – she’s just a douchebag who’s within her legal rights as far as I’m concerned, the laws being what they are. She didn’t continue the pregnancy because she wanted to have the child or even wanted not to abort; she basically decided to sue everybody for everything and got fucked over. I have literally no sympathy for anyone in this goddamn situation – egg donor, “mother” (adoptive mother?), genetic father, surrogate – they’re all assholes. That poor baby, is all I can say.

      And gotta love the surrogate for deciding to give the baby to someone she met on the internet. Because apparently that’s kosher now?

  18. Niina
    Niina March 6, 2013 at 1:31 am |

    I really hope surrogacy will be made illegal everywhere. It’s just another way to take advantage of the poor. We don’t allow people to sell their organs and because surrogacy is equally disturbing it should be banned. People can always adopt if they face reproductive challenges. After all the world is full of kids in need of parents.

    1. t
      t March 6, 2013 at 3:09 am |

      It’s not only poor people who are surrogates, and by your logic a lot of menial jobs should be made illegal because they mostly attract financially underprivileged people. Banning the sale of body parts has less to do with not wanting to take advantage of the poor, and more to do with other practical reasons.

      Also, adopting a child isn’t as easy at all. Tons of people wanting to adopt face difficulties in the process and are left in limbo for years, a big part of why so many of them turn to adopting children from other countries because the rules aren’t as stringent. Having a child biologically, even if it means paying for it is usually much easier by comparison.

      Besides, it should always be a personal decision to adopt, not a moral obligation. Why not recommend that all prospective parents adopt, regardless of their level of fertility? It’s pretty condescending to tell someone who has trouble conceiving children to just adopt, as if it’s such a simple decision not fraught with emotional difficulties.

      1. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 12:59 pm |

        Amen, t

        Also? Surrogacy is an increasingly common avenue to parenthood for LGBTQ folks for numerous reasons. Adoption is way more complicated than people assume it to be. The majority of private adoption agencies (especially in the midwest and the south) are religiously affiliated, and often fundamentalist ones too. Religious agencies are not terribly keen on working with non hetero/cis and legally married, opposite sex couples for obviously bigoted reasons.

        Surrogacy gives people a way to have children without necessarily jumping through the hoops like those present in an adoption setting. Furthermore, there is nothing wrong with wanting to have children to whom you are genetically related. Why should that be preserved only for the fertile and cis/hetero?

        1. Donna L
          Donna L March 6, 2013 at 1:53 pm |

          Thank you. Supposed my son decides someday that he very much wants to have a child, and wants a child to whom he’s genetically related, for reasons similar to mine (and, in turn, my mother’s), having to do with the fact that our family was mostly exterminated in the Holocaust, and that it really does mean something to try to keep it alive for future generations. Absent a highly accommodating female friend (or the idea he told me about when he was 15 or so, that he and his future partner would establish a kind of commune with a nice lesbian couple, and they’d all make babies together and collectively raise them), I’d love somebody to explain how that could ever happen if surrogacy were outlawed, and why it would be a good thing to deprive him of that possibility — especially given how hard it is for gay male couples to adopt in most of the USA, even if that were something he were interested in.

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 2:15 pm |

          Donna, we did look into adoption, albeit briefly. We were really pretty horrified by the blatant religiosity that was clearly the underlying mission of so many of the agencies we encountered. Basically, the message was pretty tranparent, children should be placed with parents who were similarly religious because that is what is best for them.

          We simply wanted no part of groups like that. It is possible to find agencies that are not so bigoted, but it isn’t

        3. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm |

          Rats, I didn’t mean to hit post yet.

          Anway, it isn’t easy to do, and it narrows one’s chances of being matched with a child in need of adoption quite severely.

        4. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 4:34 pm |

          @DonnaL

          I have seen jemima101 talking about surrogacy laws in the UK on this thread, and from what i understand, the law there is that surrogacy is a gift and compensation for surrogacy in the manner it is done in the US is illegal.

          I think this is the best solution that allows for the greatest agency for the surrogate.

          I am in a similar situation as your son and my response is pretty much “tough luck”. Some people in our world have bodies with the power to grow and create children and some people in our world do not. There should be no general right to genetic offspring, because that means that those who cannot grow children in their bodies would have some rights to the use of the bodies of those who can.

          Being gay in a place where adoption agencies are hostile to gay people does not mean that I deserve the ability to buy the use of someone’s body so they can create a child for me. Being gay means that I am less likely to form a strong relationship with someone with whom I can create genetic children because of the way our society has situated child creation and the fact that most of my potential partners will not have a womb that can grow a child.

          If I (or your son) want to have genetic children, I need to find someone who wants to do that with me and I need to establish an emotional rapport with that person because I will be asking them to undergo various kinds of mental, emotional, and physical distress over 9 months doing something that could threaten their life. I shouldn’t be able to offer enough money to make the risk worth it. I should be required to create a strong emotional bond commensurate with the seriousness of what I want this other person to do.

          There is a long history of the people who cannot grow children in their bodies exploiting the bodies of those who can because the former feel that having genetic children is integral in their life. Surrogacy in which a contract stipulates the exchange of money for the use of a person who can grow a child for you continues that terrible tradition of objectification and violation of the bodily autonomy of others.

        5. jemima101
          jemima101 March 6, 2013 at 4:45 pm |

          Just posting to say I agree, and you have summed up the position in the UK pretty well. It may also be worth adding that a couple in the UK would have to prove the same eligibility to adopt as any other couple, unless the father is the genetic father in which case he would have the same rights as any other non resident parent.

          I have been incredibly disturbed to read in a feminist space a number of people believing anything can over ride a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. The fact that providing a few cells, be they sperm or egg should somehow allow another to determine whether a woman can have an abortion is the argument of MRA’s across the globe.

        6. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 5:19 pm |

          Yeah, this. It wouldn’t surprise me if for every person who wants to ban surrogacy because of women’s rights, there’s another who wants to ban it because they find gay parents icky. I know of one state in Australia that’s planning to allow surrogacy for hetero couples but not for same-sex couples or single people. Another state has similar limits for all artificial conception technologies, which prevents lesbian couples from having biological kids without going interstate. Obviously, those sorts of reasons aren’t at play here, but it’s a thing among anti-surrogacy arguments.

          Another problem with banning surrogacy entirely is that it can inadvertently lead to a fucked up outcome for the kid. There was a case a few years ago where a woman carried a baby for her daughter and son-in-law (who were the genetic parents). The genetic parents of the child applied to the court to have their parenting recognised, with the grandmother’s support. However, because the law didn’t allow for surrogacy, the court found that the legal parents of the child were the grandmother and her de facto partner. My feeling is that there’s got to be some avenue for legal surrogacy (even if, as in Australia, it’s limited to altruistic surrogacy) for the sake of the kids, and to protect surrogate mothers from being stuck with parenting responsibility for children they’d never planned to raise.

        7. snorkellingfish
          snorkellingfish March 6, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

          …And that was meant to be a reply to Lolagirl and Donna L. Sorry that was unclear.

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 5:29 pm |

          Surrogacy is not per se a violation of the surrogate’s bodily autonomy. In order to be a violation of bodily autonomy, an act must be undertaken against another’s person without their express consent. That is not the case in surogacy. It is not as though these surrogates are hit over the head, dragged in of the street and forcefully submitted to an embryo transfer. Say what you will about the messy dealings between the IPs and the surrogate, but she did willingly and freely seek out the role of surrogate, signed a contract and then underwent the embryo transfer.

          The only violation of bodily autonomy autonomy would have been if the surrogate aborted the pregnancy against her will. But that did not happen and she did continue the pregnancy.

          Words and terminology have real, objective meaning. Let’s not throw them around in a manner inconsistent with their true meaning.

        9. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 5:40 pm |

          Words and terminology have real, objective meaning.

          Unless you are God, I’m going to respond to that with a resounding No.

          she did willingly and freely seek out the role of surrogate, signed a contract and then underwent the embryo transfer.

          Surrogacy is a long and dangerous process to which consent is given at the beginning in the form of a legally binding contract. This contract governing the invasive use of someone’s body is supposed to be enforceable for the entirety of the surrogacy.

          A really important part of consent is that it can be revoked at any time. I don’t see that here anywhere.

        10. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 5:59 pm |

          A4, give me a break. If you start insisting upon using the word apple to refer to a baseball that does not immediately mean that the word apple forevermore means baseball simply by virtue of your linguistic fiat. If one is going to use the term violation of bodily autonomy it should be done in the manner long since acknowledged both linguistically and legally.

        11. Donna L
          Donna L March 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

          I shouldn’t be able to offer enough money to make the risk worth it.

          Well, whether my son should be able to do that or not, the chance that he’d ever be able to afford to do so — as a likely future academic or museum employee who’s more likely than not to end up partnered with somebody in a similar field! — are basically zero, so this is a purely hypothetical conversation where he’s concerned. I still prefer the idea he had when he was 15, anyway.

        12. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm |

          If one is going to use the term violation of bodily autonomy it should be done in the manner long since acknowledged both linguistically and legally.

          I believe a contract that stipulates that someone is required to abort under any circumstances other than “the person carrying the child wants to abort” fits easily into your requirements for classifying something as a violation of bodily autonomy. Any situation that purports to give a third party irrevocable control over the reproductive decisions of a legal adult is by your definition a violation of bodily autonomy.

          That is an essential part of surrogacy contracts in the US, but does not appear to be essential to the way surrogacy is practiced in the UK.

        13. Donna L
          Donna L March 6, 2013 at 7:27 pm |

          I have been incredibly disturbed to read in a feminist space a number of people believing anything can over ride a woman’s right to bodily autonomy. The fact that providing a few cells, be they sperm or egg should somehow allow another to determine whether a woman can have an abortion is the argument of MRA’s across the globe.

          Who in this thread has argued this in this thread? I don’t remember anybody in this thread suggesting that the genetic parents should have had any say whatsoever in whether or not this woman had an abortion. What everyone has been talking about so far as I can tell is whether surrogacy should be permitted, and, if so, on what financial basis, and who has what rights after a baby is born. And I find it rather disturbing that you argued that only the surrogate has “any rights,” a statement you didn’t limit to the abortion issue or the period prior to birth. If you really believe that what you said applies to all financial and custody issues even after birth, then I strongly disagree with you. Anyone concerned about “consent” who thinks that people you so contemptuously and dismissively refer to as “providing a few cells” have no rights or equity at all on their side, and that their lack of “consent” to relinquish their own rights to their own genetic offspring if a surrogate decides to deny them the baby doesn’t matter at all — assuming that under applicable law they do have custody rights, in addition to what the contract provided– is being more than a little unfair, I think. At the very worst, all three should have parental rights. The power differential, even if it’s skewed one way now, shouldn’t be entirely skewed the other way.

          Are you telling me that you can’t think of a single hypothetical situation in which your sympathies would lie at least in part with the genetic parent or parents? Suppose a surrogate becomes a right-wing religious homophobe during her pregnancy and decides after the fact that gay men shouldn’t be allowed to raise children even if one of them is the genetic father, and takes the baby and goes off somewhere for that reason? Suppose a white surrogate decides to deny a baby to African-American parents out of bigotry, or a Christian surrogate decides that she can’t stand the idea of the baby she bore being raised as a Jew? The surrogate is still the only one with “any rights” of any kind after the birth? I can’t accept that.

        14. jemima101
          jemima101 March 6, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

          We must have been reading different threads then, cos a number of people have criticized the birth mother for breaking her contract, and even having the temerity to move state, almost as if she were a proper person with the right to do what the hell she likes with her body.

          As for your other examples, no, oddly I do not believe anyone can tell a woman she must give birth. I am funny like that, you seem to think there is a distinction between the man who spunks in a woman and then decides he should be able to decide if she has an abortion or not and a “nice” middle class couple who donate cells.
          Sorry if that terminology offends you, but that is what they do. They are no more parents than a sperm donor. They may want to be, it is important that a child once born has an understanding of it’s genetic heritage, but unless you want a world where others can make a woman abort, or carry a child, only one person can be allowed to decide what happens in her womb.

          Giving parental right to people pre birth might make sense to you, I prefer a system that sees being a parent as something that occurs at birth. However perhaps this is an american thing, after all you have people trying to pass laws that would criminalize victims of incest who have an abortion.

          My body, i decide what happens to it, pretty radical I know but pro choice is, here it seems at least.

        15. Donna L
          Donna L March 6, 2013 at 8:35 pm |

          oddly I do not believe anyone can tell a woman she must give birth

          only one person can be allowed to decide what happens in her womb.

          WTF? Please. Show me where I said or even implied that I disagree with either of those statements. I made explicitly clear that I was talking ONLY ABOUT PEOPLE’S RIGHTS AFTER BIRTH. Does that get through to you? I’d appreciate it if you responded to what I actually wrote, rather than what you imagine I wrote. You are flagrantly and directly misrepresenting what I said. Stop it. Now.

        16. Donna L
          Donna L March 6, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

          Also: don’t tell me what I “seem to think,” given that you’re apparently incapable of reading (or simply can’t be bothered to read) what I actually write. Being contemptuous and dismissive of what other people say (yeah, right, all I care about is nice middle-class couples; I’m really no different from an MRA, sorry if you offend me, blah blah) doesn’t work very well when you lie about what they’re saying to prove your point.

        17. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

          A4, the violation of bodily autonomy would be actually forcing the surrogate to have the abortion. Merely putting it in the contract, absent the actual forcing into abortion is not sufficient. Yes, I’m getting bogged down in the language here, because precision in language is important to insure that we are all, in fact, talking about the same thing.

          You have given the impression to several of us here that you are arguing that any and all surrogacy arrangements are a per se violation of bodily autonomy. That is certainly what I am taking issue with.

        18. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          And your suck it up, buttercup, attitude wrt to LGBTQ people who want to become parents is flat out shitty, A4. I wonder if you are so callous and cruel about people with, say, cancer? No chemo or radiation for you, best to take the hand dealt to you. What about those in need of organ transplants? Too bad, so sad, that’s just the bad luck of the draw for you!

          If a person is willing to become a surrogate, and does so after being fully informed both legally and medically who are you to get all paternalistic on them and say you know better than they do? Because either you or the government stepping in and prohibiting them from doing so would also arguably be a violation of their bodily autonomy.

        19. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 6, 2013 at 9:34 pm |

          And your suck it up, buttercup, attitude wrt to LGBTQ people who want to become parents is flat out shitty, A4.

          To be fair, A4 did mention never seeing the surrogate again after the birth of the child, etc – an open adoption via surrogacy would not create that scenario since the carrying parent would be involved in the kid’s life.

        20. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 9:53 pm |

          Mac, I can appreciate your giving A4 the benefit of the doubt, but in light of zir’s comments on this thread I simply can’t be that charitable. A4 has appeared disingenuously intent on misconstruing several aspects of this debate while saying some really off the wall stuff.

          The reality of most surrogacy arangements is that the IPs often remain in touch with the surro if she desires it. But plenty that I have met do not care to receive much more than some photos and maybe a holiday card. Yes, this is all anecdotal, but I have yet to encounter a surrogate who believes the child is in way their. The operating presumption is that the IPs are the parents.

        21. trees
          trees March 6, 2013 at 9:59 pm |

          @jemima101

          They are no more parents than a sperm donor. They may want to be, it is important that a child once born has an understanding of it’s genetic heritage, but unless you want a world where others can make a woman abort, or carry a child, only one person can be allowed to decide what happens in her womb.

          But must it be an either/or proposition? Isn’t it possible to honor the bodily autonomy of the pregnant person gestating the fetus, while also honoring the interests of the genetic/intended parents following birth? To say that the genetic/intended parents have a legitimate place in the life of the newly-born person is in no way meant to imply that a non-gestating person should have any power to *decide what happens in her womb*. I agree with you that bodily autonomy means the genetic parents, intended parents, sperm donors, one night stand impregnators, etc. don’t get to tell the pregnant person what to do in regards to birth control, abortion, birth, whatever. To refer to the genetic/intended parents as *sperm donors* strikes me as a poor characterization of the role they play in this experience. In the States, a sperm donor is not an intended parent; does this term have a different meaning in the UK?

        22. EG
          EG March 6, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

          While my point of view is carrier-centric, as phrased elsewhere on the thread, I do think that the genetic parents have claims on the resulting child, too, and I think sperm donation proves this point. My understanding is that to donate sperm, you have to sign a whole bunch of paperwork relinquishing the parental rights that would otherwise accrue to you. Genetic parents don’t do this, so I do think their emotional investment should be honored, but not to the exclusion–or even more than–the desires of the person who makes the baby and goes through childbirth.

          It seems to me that the only way any kind of humane compassionate solution to these situations is going to be reached would be for laws to change to recognize all three parties as legal parents to the child. The person who has gone through pregnancy and childbirth would still have the option of giving up that status, but if (most likely) her feelings changed during pregnancy, she could–and should–not be forced to.

          But plenty that I have met do not care to receive much more than some photos and maybe a holiday card.

          Meh, that could cut either way. I can see not wanting more than that as a way to minimize pain, rather than continually re-opening a wound.

          Yes, this is all anecdotal, but I have yet to encounter a surrogate who believes the child is in way their.

          Sure…except when cases arise when the pregnant women do feel that way, such as Mary Beth Whitehead. Feelings don’t have to be widespread to deserve recognition and honoring.

        23. trees
          trees March 6, 2013 at 10:31 pm |

          @EG

          I very much like your idea of there being multiple parents. In the ideal world, I imagine something like what DonnaL’s teenage son described. Maybe it would be best for surrogacy to happen in the context of a society that supports community parenting, where responsibility could be shared and relationships maintained.

        24. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 10:32 pm |

          A4 has appeared disingenuously intent on misconstruing several aspects of this debate while saying some really off the wall stuff.

          I don’t need your benefit of the doubt Lolagirl, and I don’t need your objectivism either. Just because I don’t agree with all of your pronouncements does not make me disingenuous. I think differently from you. My disagreement is not malicious.

        25. EG
          EG March 6, 2013 at 10:39 pm |

          Thanks, trees. I just want to clarify that the “most likely” in my previous comment refers to the following “her,” phrased that way to acknowledge both the reality that a pregnant person is most likely to be a woman, and the reality that it is possible for zir to be a trans man. It’s not meant to apply to the likelihood of the feelings changing, about which I would have to read a lot more studies to make that call.

        26. Emolee
          Emolee March 7, 2013 at 12:00 am |

          I’m cosigning EG’s view here:

          It seems to me that the only way any kind of humane compassionate solution to these situations is going to be reached would be for laws to change to recognize all three parties as legal parents to the child.

          As to the whether surrogacy for money should be legal, wow do I see both sides of the argument and need to give it more thought. I want to allow people with uteri the agency to decide for themselves if they want to enter into commercial surrogacy agreements. However, I believe firmly that the surrogate’s consent should be able to be revoked at any time (regardless of any contract). This means not only that she gets to decide at any point whether or not to terminate, but also gets to decide at any time whether or not to give up her parental rights.

    2. jemima101
      jemima101 March 6, 2013 at 5:49 am |

      It doesnt need to be banned, you are right we do not allow people to sell organs, we do allow them to be donated though, surrogacy for expenses only is the law in a number of countries.

      1. (BFing)Sarah
        (BFing)Sarah March 6, 2013 at 11:57 am |

        Its the law here, as well. But, we also have a contract that specifies the terms very clearly and the genetic relationship does matter according to most laws that I’ve read here. The IP are not paying for the child, they were paying the surrogate for the expenses of the pregnancy that she had agreed to untake for them.

        1. EG
          EG March 6, 2013 at 12:24 pm |

          I don’t think that’s the case here, BF Sarah. I think in the US people can undertake surrogacy for pay; that’s how the woman in this story was supporting herself, it sounds like.

        2. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah March 6, 2013 at 4:26 pm |

          The way its worded in the majority of state statutes that I have read is that the payment is for medical expenses, legal expenses associated with it, potentially living expenses, home study fees, and maybe (depending on the state) ancillary costs of pregnancy like lost wages or something else pregnancy related. Semantics, maybe, but the restrictions are still present in most of the state surrogacy statutes. Some states ban it altogether (like Mich) and others allow it but there are no statutes that specify the requirements. There are states that allow payment for surrogacy, like Utah, for example. In CT, last I read, there are no statutes that specify treatment of surrogacy contracts in general, but the courts have been favorably disposed towards them. My point is that its not that it hasn’t occurred to the US to make surrogacy contracts unpaid or for expenses only, it has. Its not like the US is this backwards, doing-everything-stupidly country where we let people buy babies and force abortions left and right. Many of the states that have actually considered surrogacy enough to make a statute about it have set very clear limitations, including about payment.

    3. Donna L
      Donna L March 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm |

      We don’t allow people to sell their organs

      So I guess you agree with that delusional Republican politician who recently claimed that a fetus is an “organ”?

      I don’t think so.

      1. A4
        A4 March 6, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

        How is a fetus not an organ?

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

          Really?

          An organ supports bodily functions necessary to remain alive. A fetus is an organism wholly dependant on the host body to grow and flourish, not an organ of the body.

        2. jemima101
          jemima101 March 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

          A fetus is basically a large well adapted parasite.

        3. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 5:26 pm |

          An organ supports bodily functions necessary to remain alive.

          This is a bad definition. I can think of several organs that do not support bodily functions necessary to remain alive. A fetus is an organ until it separates from its mother’s body. Then it is an organism.

          Wikipedia has a definition cited from Widmaier EP; Raff H, and Strang KT (2003). Vander’s Human Physiology (11th ed.). McGraw-Hill. ISBN 978-0071283663.

          “In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in a structural unit to serve a common function”

          A fetus is a collection of tissues joined in a structual unit with the common function of developing into an autonomous organism.

        4. igglanova
          igglanova March 6, 2013 at 5:50 pm |

          Are you really that ignorant, or are you just trolling? A fetus is no more an organ than I am. It is a separate creature with its own complex organ systems, and it does not provide a function for its host organism – it only has the self-directed ‘function’ of existing.

        5. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 6:01 pm |

          it does not provide a function for its host organism

          A fetus provides a fuckton of functions for its host organism. In humans, the fetus provides the function of swelling the host’s abdomen to unbelievable proportions, allowing the host to experience regurgitation at a much higher rate, allowing the host to feel nausea at a highly intensified and prolonged level, squishing the rest of the organs into an uncomfortably compact area, and even sometimes enlarging the feet of the host. These are only a few of the functions a human fetus serves for it’s host human.

          I’m not trolling. I’m just not going to adhere to unscientific rhetoric that is normally used by anti-choice people to justify abrogating people’s rights to bodily autonomy.

        6. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 6, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

          Translation of A4’s responses; I reject your reality, and substitute my own!

        7. igglanova
          igglanova March 6, 2013 at 6:39 pm |

          Jesus freakin christ, do you not even know what a function is? My head hurts more than ever. And you claim to be against unscientific rhetoric?? By your logic, a tapeworm is an organ.

          It’s emesis, btw. Not regurgitation.

        8. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm |

          By your logic, a tapeworm is an organ.

          You are right. It must amended to state that all human organs are vastly comprised of human cells.

        9. A4
          A4 March 6, 2013 at 10:48 pm |

          Translation of A4′s responses; I reject your reality, and substitute my own!

          And where did you, pray tell, get access to objective reality?

          Oh right. Nowhere. Your opinions are subjective just like the rest of us.

        10. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune March 7, 2013 at 12:29 am |

          Oh right. Nowhere. Your opinions are subjective just like the rest of us.

          Erm

          “In biology, an organ is a collection of tissues joined in a structural unit to serve a common function”

          You, too, are an organ by this definition, A4, if you’re going to apply this to fetuses.

          No, seriously: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/02/18/anatphys-101-with-mary-sue-mcclurkin-the-bodys-largest-organ-is-the-baby/

          W. T. F.

        11. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 1:26 am |

          A4…isn’t joking? *dies a little inside*

          Just for starters, fetuses have organs. And organ systems. What’s the last organ you met that has it’s own mini-organs? :p

        12. A4
          A4 March 7, 2013 at 7:45 am |

          Just for starters, fetuses have organs. And organ systems. What’s the last organ you met that has it’s own mini-organs?

          Every human cell has it’s own tiny organ systems called organelles.

          Mac, you keep posting that link. I’ve read that article. I even commented on it.

          I don’t understand what is so hard about this.

          Organs are parts of a human body that are made up of human cells and are functionally distinct from other parts but still integrally connected and cannot be separated without great danger of sepsis and cell death. It is not so much a stretch to think of a fetus as an organ. It’s a special organ, that turns into an organism, and that is the miracle of life, woohoo!

          What I don’t understand is all the breathless dramatics at the this idea. Apparently looking at these classifications from a slightly different perspective causes headaches and possible death. I still haven’t heard anyone tell me why calling a fetus an organ is so dreadfully unthinkable.

          The only objections here are arbitrary essentialist notions of what an organ is:
          1) A fetus can’t be an organ because it HAS organs.
          Well, so do individual cells. That’s sort of how biology works. structures are nested to a great degree.
          2) An organ provides life-supporting functions to the body.
          A fetus provides the function of turning into a child. It also has numerous other effects on someone’s body because they share many biological systems. What is funny to me about this objection is that since the mother provides life supporting functions to the fetus, you could say that the mother is an organ of the fetus which is an organism.

          I think what we learn here is that classification of biological systems into distinct categories is complicated, and understanding can be enhanced through considering different points of view on criteria and definitions. What a big surprise! I hope y’all don’t faint.

        13. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 7, 2013 at 8:32 am |

          Where did I get access to objective reality, you ask? Well, the dictionary, for starters. No, really, it’s this really nifty book that tells you what all the words of the English language mean. I hear they have those for every language under the sun these days. Then, I went and checked out some online resources written by actual biologists, that is people who have made it their life’s work studying the human body and have received advanced degrees in that field of study.

          Science, it’s a real thing. As are the definitions of the various words we use in our every day life.

        14. Past my expiration date
          Past my expiration date March 7, 2013 at 9:10 am |

          I still haven’t heard anyone tell me why calling a fetus an organ is so dreadfully unthinkable.

          `When I use a word,’ Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, `it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.’

        15. EG
          EG March 7, 2013 at 9:26 am |

          Oh my God, this whole argument.

          Who cares? The point is that we do regulate what is commodified and what is not. You can’t sell organs, and I’m in favor of that because the idea of rich people actually harvesting the bodies of the poor is repulsive to me. We no longer allow indentured servitude, and I’m in favor of that because it’s a form of imprisonment. You can’t sell yourself into slavery, even if you want to and someone can pay enough to, I don’t know, pay off your child’s medical bills, and I’m in favor of that for reasons that should be obvious.

          Who cares whether or not a fetus is an organ? The issue is whether or not pregnancy and childbirth are processes that we, as a society, want to be commodified. I have serious moral qualms about that, personally, as it seems to share significant traits with all three examples above, but whether or not a fetus is an organ is irrelevant.

        16. A4
          A4 March 7, 2013 at 9:32 am |

          Who cares whether or not a fetus is an organ? The issue is whether or not pregnancy and childbirth are processes that we, as a society, want to be commodified. I have serious moral qualms about that, personally, as it seems to share significant traits with all three examples above, but whether or not a fetus is an organ is irrelevant.

          :D !!!

        17. Meropi
          Meropi March 7, 2013 at 10:29 am |

          “A fetus is a collection of tissues joined in a structual unit with the common function of developing into an autonomous organism.”

          That is not a function. You need to revise your understanding of biological functions.
          The fetus is a developing organism. It also does not develop on its own, it is attached to another actual organ, that being the placenta which serves the function of providing nutrients so it can grow to the point of viability.
          You might also want to take into account the fact that all organs, unless they have been transplanted or we are talking cases of genetic chimeras, do share the DNA of the organism they are part of. A fetus does not.

          Please stop arguing that the fetus is an organ. It’s a ridiculous debate. Your only defense so far has been ‘ha! you people can’t really prove it isn’t an organ so that means it definitely must be one!’

        18. Bagelsan
          Bagelsan March 7, 2013 at 5:11 pm |

          Every human cell has it’s own tiny organ systems called organelles.

          I can’t respond to this, too busy laughing hysterically. I ain’t even mad, bro. :D

        19. igglanova
          igglanova March 7, 2013 at 7:33 pm |

          A4, just stop. You’re completely talking out of your ass here. Organelles are not organs. This is apparent in the fact that they are called organelles and not organs. You’re not some brave iconoclaust exploding scientific dogma by insisting on this bizarre rules-lawyerism extrapolated from your surface understanding of a wikipedia article.

          And yes, I do care whether we can be duped by some dumbass politician into thinking that a fetus is an organ, because beliefs like this are the scientific version of illiteracy. Accuracy matters. Scientific ignorance allows right wing bullshit to flourish – see the number of people, for instance, anti-contraception fanatics have managed to dupe into thinking that EC prevents implantation of an embryo.

        20. Ledasmom
          Ledasmom March 8, 2013 at 11:00 am |

          Actually, a fetus is more like a piano.

      2. SophiaBlue
        SophiaBlue March 6, 2013 at 5:17 pm |

        Donna, I think that is frankly a pretty strange reading of Niina’s point. It’s not that the fetus is an organ, it’s that there is a coercive element to literally selling your body for money that is present in both surrogacy and selling organs.

        (To be clear, I don’t agree that surrogacy should be completely banned, I just don’t think the analogy is about what you seem to think it’s about).

      3. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl March 7, 2013 at 9:45 am |

        EG, it matters. First of all, because itis flat out inaccurate from a scientific perspective

        1. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl March 7, 2013 at 9:57 am |

          And it matters because of the huge biological imposition of a fetus on a pregnant person. Which is why so many of us get so fired up when anti-choicers try away our right to terminate a pregnancy (and the fetus that comes with it.) It is not as though can go to their doctor and say, you know, I want to get this spleen and this pancreas removed, set that up for me doc? Changing the classification of fetus to organ can utterly change the rights of its carrier to have it removed.

          Finally, it’s starting to seriously chafe to have a man tell me he knows better than me the experience of carrying it in my body.

        2. EG
          EG March 8, 2013 at 11:38 am |

          Obviously, it matters in a cosmic sense. But it doesn’t matter for the purposes of the original point, which was not that a fetus was an organ and therefore couldn’t be sold (I have no idea why A4 decided to defend that position). The original point was that we do ban the commodification of some things, and are those things sufficiently like paying somebody to go through pregnancy and childbirth but have no parental rights to the subsequent baby that we want to think hard about the morality of doing that as well.

          Whether or not a fetus is an organ is utterly immaterial to that question. This whole argument is an utter derail.

  19. t
    t March 6, 2013 at 2:51 am |

    Honestly, I feel that the biological and surrogate parents in this story are idiots for the following reasons:

    The parents:
    1. You have three kids, two of which were born with serious health problems. I don’t know, perhaps one should take it as a sign that you have a propensity to have kids with such issues, and if you don’t want to undertake the task of caring for a severely ill/disabled child, you shouldn’t try to have more? In their case, their inability to conceive more kids should’ve been considered a blessing in disguise, especially in the aftermath of this situation.

    2. You cannot force someone to abort a child. It may be biologically yours, but at the end of the day if it’s not your body housing the fetus, it’s not your decision to make. Otherwise it means men should be allowed a legal say in their female partners terminating pregnancies.

    3. You say you won’t assume any legal responsibility on behalf of the child when it’s born, but then you threaten to sue for legal custody just so that you can surrender it to the state. Can we say inconsistent much? Also, if you’re willing to fight tooth and nail to gain custody of a child that you know you’ll just get rid of, you probably don’t deserve to be a parent to begin with. That’s called being vindictive. Too bad they already have three kids, or I’d say this is a rare case of the right people not being able to reproduce. You must be massively heartless to take away an unwanted child from someone who’ll be willing to raise them or find a right home for them only to dump them into the foster care system, just for the sake of asserting your legal power. Ugh.

    The surrogate mother:

    1. You’re absolutely within your rights to not terminate a pregnancy if it’s against your wishes. Your body, your choice. However, you say that you agreed to being a surrogate because you desperately needed the money. So you make your situation even worse by assuming responsibility for a child that is not even yours by not only refusing the abortion, but also refusing to surrender custody. Finding adoptive parents for a disabled child is not as easy as you think it is (although I’m glad that everything worked out, but you were seriously lucky on that front). Oh, but you changed your mind now you want to keep it? Great, now you’re gonna make all your kids suffer even more with your financial difficulties. That’s not noble so much as it is downright stupid and even selfish.

    2. First you’re against abortion, now you’re willing to do it only for a higher price (because you’re in a position to be negotiating when you’re broke as hell). First you want to keep it, then give it up, then keep and so on. You go as far as traveling to another state in order for the laws to be in your favor as a surrogate. Dim, indecisive and rash. You go to all these lengths all the while losing sight of the fact that you agreed to this because you needed money to care for your existing children. Maybe you should’ve done your research on the ugly downsides of surrogacy before agreeing to undertake it. You clearly aren’t stable enough for the job.

    1. Kierra
      Kierra March 6, 2013 at 11:18 am |

      You have three kids, two of which were born with serious health problems. I don’t know, perhaps one should take it as a sign that you have a propensity to have kids with such issues

      The article says that all three of their children were born premature. It’s quite possible that they attributed it to the mother’s issues getting and staying pregnant and there may not have been any evidence of a genetic problem.

      That said, I admit that I also have some issues with the idea of couples that already have kids going to such great lengths to have more. I generally resent the “infertile people should just adopt” line, but I think in this case it might be appropriate.

      1. Past my expiration date
        Past my expiration date March 6, 2013 at 11:41 am |

        That said, I admit that I also have some issues with the idea of couples that already have kids going to such great lengths to have more.

        So it’s ok for a couple with no kids to go to such great lengths? How about a couple with one kid? How about a couple with two kids? Why do you draw the line [wherever you draw the line] about how many kids couples ought to accept as enough kids?

        (Heteromonogamousfertilemarried parenting, Mac.)

        1. Kierra
          Kierra March 6, 2013 at 11:53 am |

          It’s more of a gut reaction thing, and I can see where it’s problematic.

    2. SophiaBlue
      SophiaBlue March 6, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

      Calling the surrogate mother unstable because she did not immediately know what she wanted to do given a difficult situation seems cruel to me.

  20. t
    t March 6, 2013 at 2:55 am |

    To clarify my previous comment, I should’ve said “You cannot force someone to have an abortion“, not “You cannot force someone to abort a child“. I feel like I uninentionally gave pro-lifers some points with that problematic phrase.

  21. Coraline
    Coraline March 6, 2013 at 6:13 am |

    All I can say is “woah”.

    All other shittery and douchebaggery by everyone involved aside (which has been thoroughly gone over in the comments already) … this woman’s entire livelihood was being a gestational surrogate? That’s seriously all she did?

    Well, she’s shot her foot right the hell off then, because after this clusterfuck I can’t imagine that anyone would hire her as a surrogate ever again.

  22. Rob in CT
    Rob in CT March 6, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

    I don’t understand why the CT folks tried to push for an abortion if it was understood they wouldn’t have to care for the child. Paying someone $10k to have an abortion? Wow. And then trying to secure rights to the baby in order to turn it over to the state? W.T.F?

    I just can’t make sense of that.

    1. Henry
      Henry March 7, 2013 at 12:26 am |

      They asserted the parental rights to force a bad outcome (foster care), hoping she would abort instead. The idea was likely cooked up by their lawyer, using the only leverage they had.

  23. a lawyer
    a lawyer March 6, 2013 at 4:40 pm |

    You can’t “force” her to have an abortion. That would require some nasty physical intervention. You can’t contract to give someone the right to abort against your will.

    But you sure as hell can sign a contract in which you agree to be sued for damages if you don’t follow directions, or not to get paid your contract sum if you don’t follow directions, or to waive certain legal rights if you breach the contract.

    That’s not “forcing,” that’s just contract. The fact that the contract happens to involve her body doesn’t really matter.

    1. Drahill
      Drahill March 7, 2013 at 1:01 pm |

      The problem is that for damages to be awarded, the clause in breach would have to actually be enforcable. As Jill as pointed out here, the clause is void as against public policy, because nobody can contract away their right to refuse a medical procedure. Breach is only possible when the clause was actually enforcable in the first place. For example – We could sign a contract in which I would promise to deliver to you a large amount of heroin. I then refuse to deliver and you sue me for damages. You have no case and no right to collect because the court could never actually order specific performance, given that contracts to deliver illegal substances are void as against public policy.

      With your recent comments, I’m starting to wonder if you skept through contracts. I’m pretty sure I remember this lession early in the semester.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong March 8, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

        Contracts make the failure to perform specified duties grounds for damages even if the contract can’t compel said action all the time.

        I don’t know how the specific agreement was drawn up, but any halfway-competent lawyer could easily insert a clause making the failure to have an abortion legally actionable without a guaranteed-to-fail attempt to compel that abortion by force.

        1. amblingalong
          amblingalong March 8, 2013 at 9:48 pm |

          PS- shouldn’t that be “A Lawyer, Esq?” Seriously, how else will we know to take you seriously?

          ;)

  24. Henry
    Henry March 7, 2013 at 12:17 am |

    The term is unenforceable no matter which way they write it so WTF is it doing in the contract? You know whose fault this is? The lawyers who write these things. They created the expectation in the would-be parents that they could force an abortion. Writing crap that makes your client happy might get your fees paid quicker, but it is poor practice. All they can do is put a nonpayment term in there if the surrogate violates the wishes of the would-be parents, and that should have been explained to the would be-parents with certainty by the lawyer they hired to coerce her into an abortion.

    1. Evan Carden
      Evan Carden March 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

      I think you’re misunderstanding contract law. You [general you] contract for lots of things which, if breached, you could not get specific performance [that is, force the person to actually do what they contracted to do] for.

      For instance, if we contract for me to buy 100 widgets and you decide to breach by not delivering, I can’t make you sell me the widgets. I can make you return my deposit and pay damages, but that doesn’t get me the widgets.

      I’d honestly be shocked if any lawyer thought they could enforce that term via specific performance. More likely, they were either seeking to make clear the damages that would result [I’d honestly expect reliance damages, that is, basically, refund all payment] and to make it clear that they weren’t going to take responsibility for the potential child. Now, that might act as an inducement to abort, but the difference is more than semantic. Abort or there will be a court order for repayment [against which you may, or may not, be judgement proof] and a court order for an abortion are two different things.

      1. Henry
        Henry March 7, 2013 at 10:44 pm |

        no, I understood it just fine. I just think surrogacy seekers don’t understand that specific performance isn’t part of the contract and they don’t get a good explanation of that when they are handed the papers by these agencies. The behavior by their lawyer in seeking custody for the express purpose of dumping the child is just morally repugnant. No lawyer should suggest such a course of action. That’s where they crossed the line in trying to achieve the equivalent of specific performance.

        1. Evan Carden
          Evan Carden March 8, 2013 at 10:54 am |

          If the genetic parents really thought that they could force the surrogate to have an abortion, than their lawyers haven’t served them well. But, I don’t see any evidence of that. A portion of a contract that can be invoked must be invoked in order to claim that it has been breached.

          As for the custody question, I really don’t understand it. If the fetus became an infant and was actually delivered to the genetic parents, I’d have a hard time arguing that the surrogate hadn’t substantially performed on her contract. Given that the surrogate did not appear to want custody, a lot of this legal activity seems malicious, but I can’t help feeling that I’m missing something.

          But I’m derailing. The legal/legal-ethics questions of the specific case are interesting to me, but aren’t really relevant to the broader question.

  25. Nico
    Nico March 7, 2013 at 10:26 pm |

    Re: the relevance of surrogate pregnancy to sex work, and vice versa.

    Surrogate pregnancy and sex work can at first seem to have little to do with each other. Yet while they are not at all equivalent or the same, both challenge the conventional rules and expectations of the age-old reproductive order.

    Both sex work and surrogate pregnancy involve securing services that by convention are “included” as part of a married or marriage-like “coupled” relationship. With surrogacy the service is fetal incubation and delivery of a live birth and will not typically involve sexual relations. With sex work the service is sexual engagement and is not intended to result in pregnancy.

    The fact that some types of sexual engagement can lead to pregnancy is important here in that it highlights how surrogate pregnancy and sex work, each in its distinct way, performs a full separation of sex from reproduction, surrogacy being sexless reproduction, sex work being nonreproductive sex. This separation of sex from reproduction is both simple and radical, and is after all what regulations on sex and sexuality are designed to both prevent and punish.

    The relationship between surrogate pregnancy and sex work might almost be described as mirrored opposites, each a “pure” expression of what by idealized convention are supposed to be united: sex & reproduction.

    Looking at it this way shows how issues of both sex work and surrogate pregnancy must both be part of any progressive conception of bodily autonomy and reproductive rights.

  26. tomek
    tomek March 7, 2013 at 11:02 pm |

    genetic parents (whom only one of them is anyway) should not get say over woman who carried baby in my opinion. if surrogate mother decide she not want to give away baby, that is her call. she have spent nine months of life nurturing baby, providing all the care and undergoing the physical change and all the stressful things. that make her view more important than the ones that gave the sperm and the eggs to put in dish.

    genetic relationship is important. but more important i think is the bond formed between woman carrying child and baby. there is all things with hormones going on there.

    also the kind of which parents who can afford to hire surragate and do the sperm and egg transplantation are the kind which are very rich. surrogate is probably not rich. it is interesting to note that here many people are side with the genetic parents. maybe because they see themself as most people here are new york lawyers (i have counted many people identify themself as lawyers on this site… it is crazy) who identify more with rich genetic parent than they can with surrogate.

    1. A4
      A4 March 8, 2013 at 12:05 pm |

      Word.

    2. Donna L
      Donna L March 8, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

      Believe it or not, being a New York lawyer does not = rich, let alone very rich. Nor does it automatically result in an absence of empathy with people who are on the less powerful side of a power differential.

      That said, I think it’s quite interesting how rapidly Tomek’s English seems to have improved recently, along with the general reasonability of his comments. Nothing lately about making babies by putting two eggs in a jar and zapping them with electricity.

    3. Emolee
      Emolee March 8, 2013 at 12:58 pm |

      Why is it crazy that ther are lawyers here?

      Anyway, as one of the lawyers (recently of New York, but now of Houston), yeah, I may “identify” more with the “rich genetic parents,” (I can imagine myself needing a surrogate more than being one), but that does not stop me with empathizing as much, if not MORE, with the surrogate. I was one of the ones defending a “carrier-centric” view of rights (making room for rights of non-carrying genetic parents after birth as well). So… no.

    4. tomek
      tomek March 8, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

      i am sorry for making the comment about people being rich or not rich, it was not right of me. just the first two paragraph in my comment is what i stand by most

      1. Emolee
        Emolee March 8, 2013 at 4:07 pm |

        Okay, tomek. No hard feelings from me, just wanted to clarify.

  27. Kate
    Kate March 8, 2013 at 1:39 pm |

    This is an incredibly sad story, and it never should have happened. A careful surrogacy agency thoroughly discusses issues like termination with both the surrogate and the intended parents well in advance of ANY medical procedures. The only way a match will happen is if both parties are on the same page regarding these sensitive topics. A woman needs to think very, very carefully about her willingness to go through with termination. If she has any hesitation she should ONLY be matched with intended parents who feel the same way. It IS her body and her choice, and it is something she needs to express before going through any medical procedures. Period.

    1. Emolee
      Emolee March 8, 2013 at 2:17 pm |

      Agreed, mostly. But I think what is often assumed is that the way a woman feels going in will be the way she feels when it is actually time to choose. Feelings change, especially with an experience like pregnancy. Noone should be held to “agreements” made before the fact in situations liek this.

  28. amblingalong
    amblingalong March 8, 2013 at 3:44 pm |

    Jeez, this is just an incredibly thorny thicket of ethical issues to pick through.

    Basically, here’s where I come down:

    a) Everybody has a right to bodily autonomy. Nobody should ever be forced to have an abortion, or forced to carry a pregnancy to term.

    b) That said, it’s not unreasonable to form a contract which covers the eventuality of a surrogate deciding to either have/not have an abortion after previously agreeing to/ not to. The surrogate gets to make that choice, but it’s not unethical for the contract to make a given decision a stipulation for payment.

    c) The surrogate has rights over her body; rights over the child post-pregnancy can reasonably be determined by contract. Trying to assign weights to the whole mess of genetic/hormonal/emotional ‘ownership’ of a child is diving down a rabbit hole nobody is going to come back from; contracts should (and do) clearly spell out post-birth relationships, and should be enforced.

    d) What this all boils down to: the surrogate has the right to do whatever she wants with her body up until birth, at which point whoever the contract stipulates is the parents take custody. Given the particulars of this case, it seems reasonable for contracts to give the surrogate custody of a child which the surrogate chose not to abort despite the parameters of the original agreement.

    This is obviously super complicated and fraught, so I’m completely open to revising my ideas, but that’s the best I’ve got so far.

    1. tomek
      tomek March 8, 2013 at 4:30 pm |

      ambalingadong i think you are too quickly dismiss what you say is “mess of genetic/hormonal/emotional” questions and say that we should just go by contract instead.

      because what will happen in the fact is the party which has most money and most power in the contracting will be able to put into contract terms which benefit them the most. if surragate has not much money, she will be at mercy of genetic parent and there high expense laywer. terms of contract can be expressed in a way that it is very difficult for non layers to understand. and i am not speaking low of surragates when i say this — i can rarely even understand things i am signing.

      we have good understanding in science of the kind of hormones and emotions that are produced by things such as genetic parent relationship and woman carrying baby hormones that are produced in her. we can use this to answer who would be most negatively effected by not having the final decision. and i think answer is surragate mother, because she have developed deep bond with baby that is difficult to imagine to males who cannot have such a bond, and females who have not had it yet.

      1. Donna L
        Donna L March 8, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

        who would be most negatively effected by not having the final decision. and i think answer is surragate mother, because she have developed deep bond with baby that is difficult to imagine to males who cannot have such a bond, and females who have not had it yet.

        I just don’t think it’s remotely possible to make generalizations that you can reasonably assume will apply in any particular case. I didn’t give birth to my son, and I will never believe in a thousand years that the bond and the love I’ve always felt for him could possibly have been any stronger had I done so. I’ve spoken before about some of the reasons specific to me that may explain why I have always felt so strongly, but it wouldn’t surprise me at all if I had felt exactly the same way without any of those reasons. On the other hand, as others have pointed out, not all surrogates do develop such a bond and/or regret carrying out the surrogacy agreement. You’d be surprised how complicated and unpredictable life can be.

      2. amblingalong
        amblingalong March 8, 2013 at 9:39 pm |

        First of all, I cosign Donna Ls post in its entirety.

        Secondly, I agree that contracts are not perfectly egalitarian instruments; absent both parties being represented by legal council (and arguably even then), there is the potential for abuse. Still, I’m trying to take this discussion out of the philosophical into the pragmatic. Given the range of public policy options available to us, really I can’t think of a better framework than having both parties sit down prior to pregnancy and spell out exactly what they’re agreeing on, and then having that agreement enforced. It may produce some bad cases, but I think it’s the least-bad option.

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