Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby

By Harden Jackson, LLC on March 12, 2013
 

From a recent CNN story, when a Connecticut couple learned their surrogate mother was carrying a fetus with developmental disabilities, they offered her $10,000 to have an abortion.
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In August 2011, Crystal Kelley was carrying the child of another couple. When Kelley was approximately 20 weeks pregnant, an ultrasound showed that the baby had a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in the brain, and a complex heart abnormality. The parents offered Kelley $10,000 to abort, stating "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,". Kelley declined. The couple and the surrogate had legal contracts and part of that contract included a clause that she'd agree to abort if the fetus had a severe abnormality. However, the contract did not define what constitutes such an abnormality.

The parents then stated that they planned to exercise their legal right to take custody of their child -- and then immediately after birth surrender her to the state of Connecticut. She would become a ward of the state. Kelley could not bear to send the child into the foster care system, especially when she had so many medical problems.
Kelley fled Connecticut for Michigan, where she, not the genetic parents, would be considered the baby's legal mother. Michigan is a state that does not recognize surrogacy contracts, and so the baby legally belongs to the woman who's carrying the baby.

In Ann Arbor, she gave birth to a child with severe medical conditions. The legal dispute over the child continued. The case became even more complicated when the parents filed legal papers that included a stunning admission: the wife was not the baby's genetic mother -- they'd used an anonymous egg donor.

Three weeks after the baby was born, both sides finally reached agreement. Kelley had found an adoptive family that had experience with special needs children and placed the child with them. The father agreed to give up his paternal rights as long as he and his wife could keep in touch with the adoptive family about the baby's health. The outcome could have been very different had Kelley stayed in Connecticut.


People are often confused about the surrogacy laws in Indiana. In Indiana, a court process must be completed to establish parental rights but biological parents prevail in having rights.

Those considering surrogacy should keep in mind that a gestational surrogate has the right to make medical decisions (like abortion) while carrying a child for the biological parents.It is important for all parents pursuing a typical pregnancy, surrogacy or adoption that it is not to have a perfect child. There are no guarantees in life and there are no guarantees with any pregnancy or child.

If you have questions about surrogacy or assisted reproductive law, please contact Harden Jackson Law.