When a couple is choosing surrogacy, IVF, or even adoption, they are met with far more options that the average couple conceiving is faced with. From the start, there are contracts and decisions to be made. For example, how many embryos is too many embryos? What level of disability are you willing to accept? All of these things are decided prior to the beginning of the process, something not many of the biological parents I’ve known have discussed prior to a routine pregnancy.
The problem is, these early decisions don’t account for the chaos factors in life. There are divorces and breakups that lead to IVF terminations, there are surrogate mothers who change their minds, couples who change their minds, and there’s the moment when a baby is born that wells up powerful, unpredictable, emotions. It is difficult, in my opinion, to attempt to legislate such an unpredictable process, especially in relation to surrogacy.
The tragic case in B.C. has brought the issue back into the spotlight.
The case of a B.C. couple who hired a surrogate to have their baby, and then demanded the fetus be aborted after they learned it would likely be born with Down syndrome, is a disturbing reminder that the ethical and moral concerns around surrogacy arrangements have not been debated and properly dealt with. The story came to light after Dr. Ken Seethram, the doctor involved, raised it at a recent conference on fertility medicine held by the Canadian Society of Fertility and Andrology.
In the B.C. case, the couple wanted the surrogate to have an abortion, but she refused. Later, faced with the apparent prospect of having to raise the couple’s child herself, the surrogate had an abortion.
Obviously, the bottom line is that nobody should be coerced by contract into having an abortion against her will. Ethicists have suggested that if the case had gone to court, the child would have been awarded to its biological parents to raise.
What needs to be kept uppermost in mind while sorting through the moral and ethical ramifications of the complex scenarios in vitro fertilization has engendered, is that a human being — not a commodity or product — is the subject matter.