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Surrogate Offered $10,000 for Abortion


MandyLaLa

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Crystal Kelley, a surrogate who entered into an agreement to have a Connecticut couple’s baby for them last year, found herself embroiled in a bitter battle when an ultrasound found fetal abnormalities, and the couple asked her to have an abortion, a CNN report revealed this week.

More on Shine: Selfless Surrogate Retires After Giving Birth to 15th Baby

Kelley refused to abort, touching off a legal battle that had each side going to great lengths to save the unborn baby in its own way—the parents, by wanting to “have mercy on the child and let her go,†and Kelley, by deciding to “carry and protect†the child until its birth.

More on Yahoo!: Ontario Surrogate Mother Slapped with $1,400 Hospital Bill

After a many-months-long ordeal that involved lawyers, monetary offers, and Kelley’s move from Connecticut to Michigan, where state laws would see her as the rightful mother, “Baby S†was born—with even more health problems than expected. The baby is now 8 months old, living with adoptive parents, has had three surgeries with more to come, and, if she lives, faces a 50 percent chance she won’t be able to ever walk or talk.

But Kelley says she doesn’t regret what she did.

“No one else was feeling this pregnancy the way that I was. No one else could feel her kicking and moving around inside,†she told CNN. “I knew from the beginning that this little girl had an amazing fighting spirit, and whatever challenges were thrown at her, she would go at them with every ounce of spirit that she could possibly have.â€

It all began in August of 2011, when Crystal, who has two children of her own, began working with a surrogacy agency; she agreed to work with a couple who wanted but could not have a fourth child. She would be a gestational carrier, meaning she would have no genetic connection to the baby, but would carry a baby formed by a frozen embryo the couple had left from a previous round of in-vitro, and the father’s sperm. Her fee would be $22,000.

Just ten days later Crystal, then 29, conceived. But everyone’s happiness turned to angst when a routine five-month ultrasound revealed many physical abnormalities, including a cleft palate and lip, a brain cyst and serious heart defects.

“Given the ultrasound findings, (the parents) feel that the interventions required to manage (the baby’s medical problems) are overwhelming for an infant, and that it is a more humane option to consider pregnancy termination,†members of the fetal medical staff at Hartford Hospital wrote to Kelley’s midwife, according to CNN. The parents had already gone through three previous premature births that left two of their children with medical problems.

But Kelley, they added, disagreed, and was “adamantly†opposed to aborting.

It was an unfortunate time for both sides to discover such a wide chasm between their philosophical and ethical beliefs, according to at least one surrogacy expert.

“It’s very common to talk about [this type of issue] before there’s an actual pregnancy, and is something that should be agreed upon at the outset, to make sure that philosophically and ethically, parents and the carrier are on the same page,†reproductive law attorney Victoria Ferrara told Yahoo! Shine. “The same issue holds if there’s a triplet pregnancy. You need to have a carrier willing to carry a triplet pregnancy, because it could be risky.â€

On the other side, added Ferrara, author of “Gestational Surrogacy, A Primer,†and owner of Worldwide Surrogacy Specialists in Fairfield, CT, parents may want to make sure to find a carrier who would be willing to undergo selective reduction in the case of triplets.

In one particular case of hers, she explained, “the carrier had originally said she would reduce, but when it came time, she had a lot of qualms about it.†She finally agreed, after hearing from a doctor about how high-risk the pregnancy would be, but the case serves as an example of how a situation like this one could arise, Ferrara said.

When Kelley would not agree to abort, according to CNN, she says the couple offered her $10,000 to reconsider. Kelley refused, instead asking for $15,000; the couple would not pay that much, and Kelley said she had changed her mind anyway.

Each side retained a lawyer, Kelley finding Michael DePrimo of Hamden, an anti-abortion First Amendment attorney with connections to the American Family Association who agreed to take on her case for free.

The couple’s attorney reminded Kelley that her contract with them stipulated she would have an abortion in the case of “severe fetus abnormality.†But such an agreement is not legally binding, Ferrara told Shine. “She still has the constitutional right that any woman has, to make decisions about her own body.â€

Eventually, Kelley learned she and her children could relocate to Michigan, a state where the birth mother, and not the genetic parents, is considered the legal guardian. She chose this option, and gave birth to the baby there. Baby S was born with a panoply of issues, including holoprosencephaly, which means the brain fails to completely divide into distinct hemispheres, and heterotaxy, which means many of her internal organs are in the wrong places. She also has a misshapen ear and many complex heart problems. Ultimately, though, Kelley, a single mother, realized she could not raise Baby S, and wound up finding her adoptive parents who had experience with high-needs babies.

"S. wakes up every single morning with an infectious smile. She greets her world with a constant sense of enthusiasm," the baby's adoptive mother said in an e-mail to CNN. "Ultimately, we hold onto a faith that in providing S. with love, opportunity, encouragement, she will be the one to show us what is possible for her life and what she is capable of achieving."

Kelley, meanwhile, still wrestles with her decision to not keep the baby. “I know logically I did what was right.. and I know that nobody in the world would dare think that I gave up on Baby S after all the fighting I did for her, but the battle in my head is bigger and stronger than I really know how to handle,†she wrote on her personal blog in February. “I feel myself slipping down that slippery slope, and I am fighting so hard to stay afloat. I just hope I find a foothold soon.â€

Ferrara told Shine she hopes that the public won’t “vilify the whole process of surrogacy†based on this one case. “Most often it just goes so beautifully,†the lawyer said, “and everyone understands the nature of the gift that’s been given and received.â€

This link is a much more detailed article: www.cnn.com/2013/03/04/health/surrogacy ... .html?c=us

I've been thinking on this and how it should of been handled, or what should of been done, but I can't come up with an answer. I know what I would do if I was carrying a fetus with that many complications, but throw in that the fetus is in someone else's body I would never force someone to have an abortion. But now these parents have a child I out there with another family. This just has so many complex levels to it. I would love to hear others opinions.

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It's a sticky situation to be sure.

This, however, made me roll my eyes:

When Kelley would not agree to abort, according to CNN, she says the couple offered her $10,000 to reconsider. Kelley refused, instead asking for $15,000; the couple would not pay that much, and Kelley said she had changed her mind anyway.

Sanctity of life, babies, blah blah blah...but throw in an extra $5000 and I can set my morals aside.

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Not only the bidding war, but the fact she refused to abort, moved her whole family to a state where she would win, and then gave up the baby for adoption.

The baby's life is precious, until it's born, and then it's too much bother.

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If I were the biological parents, I would be pissed. I don't think this was Crystal Kelley's decision to make.

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This is why we need bring the law up to date with technology/medicine. I was rather shocked to find out that she moved from Connecticut to Michigan because in CT the biological parents were the legal parents and in MI the birth mother was the legal parent. This all needs to be explicitly spelled out ahead of time; families and their surrogates need to be forced to sit down and talk about how different situations like this one will be handled. I know we snarked on Mitt Romney's son and his wife for having a clause in their surrogacy agreement giving them the decision regarding the decision to abort the fetus in the case of fetal abnormalities (while giving the surrogate the decision to abort if the pregnancy threatened the surrogate's health). BUT they talked about it and came to a consensus before the pregnancy began. That didn't happen in this case and that was part of the problem. If the parents and the surrogate can't come to a consensus on this type of issue then they shouldn't be creating a child together.

edited to add: My shock at her move was due to the fact that the laws are that different.

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That has got to be the most poorly written article in the history of the internet.

It is an intriguing issue though. I think the surrogate mother putting the baby up for adoption makes it even more complicated.

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Shouldn't this possibility and who would decide on if an abortion would happen in the event of severe disabilities, etc, have been included in the contract before any pregnancy?

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Not only the bidding war, but the fact she refused to abort, moved her whole family to a state where she would win, and then gave up the baby for adoption.

The baby's life is precious, until it's born, and then it's too much bother.

This bother me as well.

She went through legal battles, moving to another state to, at the end, put the baby up for adoption.

I only hope that the baby is not in major physical pain.

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Wow, I...that....WUT?

'How about $15000? Actually, never mind.'

That raises a whole lot of legal and ethical questions, and I wouldn't want to touch any of them with a ten-foot pole.

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This is why we need bring the law up to date with technology/medicine. I was rather shocked to find out that she moved from Connecticut to Michigan because in CT the biological parents were the legal parents and in MI the birth mother was the legal parent. This all needs to be explicitly spelled out ahead of time; families and their surrogates need to be forced to sit down and talk about how different situations like this one will be handled. I know we snarked on Mitt Romney's son and his wife for having a clause in their surrogacy agreement giving them the decision regarding the decision to abort the fetus in the case of fetal abnormalities (while giving the surrogate the decision to abort if the pregnancy threatened the surrogate's health). BUT they talked about it and came to a consensus before the pregnancy began. That didn't happen in this case and that was part of the problem. If the parents and the surrogate can't come to a consensus on this type of issue then they shouldn't be creating a child together.

edited to add: My shock at her move was due to the fact that the laws are that different.

It was part of the contract that both parties signed. The surrogate just decided to ignore it and say that the contract was not specific enough for a case like this.

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The thing is, even it there were an agreement, if the surrogate doesn't want an abortion, forcing her to abort seems wrong. People have the right to their own bodies. It's just so tricky. I'm not sure what the answer is.

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I don't know what I would do if I was in her shoes, and I can't say that I even begin to comprehend what she went through and what she was feeling, but the money thing (where she ups the $10k they offered her to $15k) and the move to another state just make it seem like all she wanted to do was win. Not fight for the baby to stay alive, but just win. I'm torn on this. On the one hand, it's her body, her right. On the other hand, it's not her baby (except legally in Michigan?), and now there are two people out there knowing that their baby, who isn't theirs anymore, is out there maybe suffering. Also, didn't this woman know that it would likely be expensive to keep the baby? I mean, the baby was born with more medical conditions than they first thought she would have, but they already knew she had cleft palate. I'm not saying expensive medical conditions is a great reason to have an abortion, but... Well I don't really know what to say. If parents can have the option to abort due to their future child likely having medical conditions then it's not really my place to tell them to keep it if they don't want to incur those costs. Regardless of my opinion on whether I think that's right or wrong (which I'm not sure I've decided yet)

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Shouldn't this possibility and who would decide on if an abortion would happen in the event of severe disabilities, etc, have been included in the contract before any pregnancy?

Uh yeah, you'd think. Did no one consult a lawyer before agreeing to this whole surrogacy arrangement?

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The thing is, even it there were an agreement, if the surrogate doesn't want an abortion, forcing her to abort seems wrong. People have the right to their own bodies. It's just so tricky. I'm not sure what the answer is.

But she sold her body to this couple. They were paying her 20k for it.

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Not only the bidding war, but the fact she refused to abort, moved her whole family to a state where she would win, and then gave up the baby for adoption.

The baby's life is precious, until it's born, and then it's too much bother.

This. All of this. A *world* of this. What a jackass.

And furthermore: wtf, Michigan??!

[This collection of short sentences brought to you by vodka and general dismay.]

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But she sold her body to this couple. They were paying her 20k for it.

She sold a service to the couple, which required the rental of one of her organs for a specific period of time. She didn't sell her body to the would-be parents.

(And so much for being pro-life: Mitt Romney's kid would have asked the surrogate to abort in case of fetal abnormalities? Eugenics for Jesus!)

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I really disliked the whole asking for $15000 to get an abortion... but disregarding that, I wouldn't have had a problem with her keeping the baby had she actually kept it instead of giving it up for adoption, as long as she made sure the biological parents were free of any and all responsibility related to the pregnancy and baby from that point on. Obviously there should have been a lot more legal counsel given prior to this agreement.

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I had the impression that unknown, paid surrogates would always have contracts set up before entering into any arrangement, including discussions about when abortion will and won't happen and that it's the intended parents' decision. (I've always found that aspect of surrogacy really weird, but I suppose it's because I find paid surrogacy a bit weird in general - you are offering your body as a vessel, as a paid service.)

So in this case, she DID sign that sort of agreement. It certainly would be difficult, being in that situation, having changed your mind about what you wanted to do, but that's why you don't sign that sort of agreement if you're not willing to go through with it. I know that sounds harsh, and I do think that any woman in her situation should be able to renege on their agreement, but it sounds like she was categorically opposed to abortion itself when she signed -- seriously?

And the fact that it seems she didn't just change her mind about this particular pregnancy, but is categorically opposed to abortion, also makes her extra $5000 consideration even worse.

I don't have any problem with the fact that she gave the baby up for adoption. That was what she was basically originally going to do; when the original parents wanted out, she found new parents. The only concern is whether they, as the genetic parents (I am assuming) have any problem with it, and if so, any legal rights to assert -- which would vary from state to state in the U.S., I am assuming.

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The surrogate is a liar and a hypocrite. And the real loser in all of this is the baby, who now has to suffer a life filled with health problems, a surrogate who thought she was too much bother to raise, and without knowing her real mom and dad.

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I heard an interview with the surrogate today on NPR. The article doesn't give the whole story.

The abnormalities were detected on an ultrasound. At that point the intended parents wanted to terminate. The surrogate wanted further testing done, such as an amniocentisis, to determine the extent of the fetus's abnormalities. The contract said the surrogate agreed to terminate only after amnio and other more sophisticated tests, however the intended parents refused to pay for these tests for the uninsured surrogate. The surrogate said she could not afford to pay for the tests herself, but she didn't feel she could terminate on the basis of the ultrasound alone. That's when the intended parents offered her 10k to abort. I wonder how much the further testing would have cost. More than 10k? Anyway the surrogate said she asked, how about 15k, but it was a heat of the moment thing and she said ultimately she could not terminate for money. So really, it was the intended parents who were not abiding by the contract. And even with the the clause in the contract, no one can legally force a woman to undergo an abortion anyway.

Also, they used the sperm from the father and a donor egg and didn't tell the surrogate it was a donor egg. Not sure that is relevant in any way, but the surrogate said she was surprised when she found that out because they had led her to believe it was the intended mother's egg.

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Also I forgot to add, when the surrogate said she would not terminate, the intended parents planned to surrender the child to the state at birth to be placed in foster care. The surrogate didn't want the child in a foster care situation, where she felt it would be subject to abuse. That is when she moved to Michigan, so she could make the decision about what would happen to the baby after birth. She felt the baby should be with a loving family and that is what she agreed to have a baby for, a family. She said after moving to Michigan she was able to find an adoptive family for the baby. In the interview it was never mentioned if she ever intended to care for the baby herself.

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Uh yeah, you'd think. Did no one consult a lawyer before agreeing to this whole surrogacy arrangement?

Apparently, it was in their contract:

The couple’s attorney reminded Kelley that her contract with them stipulated she would have an abortion in the case of “severe fetus abnormality.†But such an agreement is not legally binding, Ferrara told Shine. “She still has the constitutional right that any woman has, to make decisions about her own body.â€
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This is why we need bring the law up to date with technology/medicine. I was rather shocked to find out that she

edited to add: My shock at her move was due to the fact that the laws are that different.

Again, where was their attorney? We deal with clients (not surrogates, but a service business) from across the country, and all contracts define what state laws will apply in the event of a dispute. It makes no difference what state the client lives in or uses the product, they sign a contract that says what kind of court (mediation initially, then civil court) and what state.

Surrogacy has been around for 30ish+ years-- these bugs should have been worked out years ago.

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No one should be able to force a woman to abort (or not abort) under any circumstances, so there's that.

However, the actions reported make me quite uncomfortable- being willing to abort for an extra amount of money I find slimy in the extreme, and doesn't make her sound like she's as piously pro-life as she makes herself out to be. She seemed to make a calculated effort to take things out of the biological parents' control, even outside the abort/ don't abort question. And then she couldn't take care of the child- and had to rely on someone else to adopt it from her. She had a child she couldn't look after, knowing that this child was going to have serious problems. And both she and the child are extremely lucky that someone was able to take on that burden- which was unnecessary.

I feel terrible for the child, who sounds like she's going to have a painful life ahead of her. So unnecessary.

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The surrogate is a liar and a hypocrite. And the real loser in all of this is the baby, who now has to suffer a life filled with health problems, a surrogate who thought she was too much bother to raise, and without knowing her real mom and dad.

Seconded.

I would be absolutely horrified if I used a surrogate due to infertility and they backed out of our contract either by keeping the baby for herself, aborting in an unagreed-upon situation, or refusing to abort in an agreed-upon situation, especially if the end result is my child being raised by someone else and living an inhumane life.

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