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Are we ready?

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March 7, 2013

The headline read:

“Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby”

Let me begin by saying that I really don’t have an answer for this. With this situation there is no moral or ethical high ground to stand on. But this story leaves us with a lot of questions that we must begin to ask ourselves with this new age of medicine upon us.

If you haven’t read this story, stop now and read it. I will recap it just in case. A couple pays a surrogate $22,000 to carry their child. Their contract stipulates that in the case of extreme defects, the surrogate will terminate the pregnancy. Indeed, the fetus began to develop many life-threatening problems. Couple asks that the surrogate mom have mercy on the fetus and to not continue with the pregnancy, they also offer her $10,000 to do so. Surrogate says that she will not terminate the pregnancy, and she feels she must save the fetus. But, she also said she would do it for $15,000. Long story short, surrogate gives birth and the child with many life-threatening conditions is adopted and now faces many complicated surgery and a very small chance of a healthy life.

My first problem with this is not about the issue itself but how CNN decided to market it. When I read the headline my first thought was that someone was just offering money to a random person to see if they would have an abortion. This is not at all what it was about though. Perhaps “Surrogate mother continues pregnancy against biological parent’s wishes” or something else. I really believe that the headline is biased and starts the article off on the wrong foot for the reader. For me, it’s not really important to look at the financial side of the argument, however, I do find it troubling that the surrogate said she was saving the child when she denied the $10,000, but then what was she doing exactly when she demanded $15,000???

The second problem I see is that they created a contract that had an abortion clause. I guess I come from the view that because we shouldn’t legally stop someone from having an abortion, we also shouldn’t legally force it to happen. I cannot think of any other cases where a contract stipulates that a person is required to do something to their body, even if it’s not what they want. I am okay however, with the biological parents asking the surrogate to terminate the pregnancy, even offering money I can understand. I also support the surrogate’s decision to not have the abortion. It is her body, and she has the agency to make decisions for herself. I question the real reasons behind the surrogate’s decision, but it doesn’t stop us from asking the big question –

Is it okay for us as a society to continue taking advantage of advanced medical techniques if we have not yet examined all the moral and ethical consequences that they carry? What would it take for us to have these conversations? Should it be left up to the professionals? The government? The Church? Clearly all of these choices bring more negative consequences, even if they were to provide an answer. If we left the decisions up to the government, well, frankly I’d be surprised if we would have eradicated polio by now.

As I can offer you no answer, I encourage you to think about these implications and have the conversation with others, I can assure you that this will not be the end of these ethical dilemmas.

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