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Assisted Reproduction

Washington Post Weighs In On Pro-Life Surrogate Who Refused Reduction

The Washington Post has a fair and balanced story on the recent lawsuit filed by a pro-life gestational carrier which we blogged about yesterday. This is perhaps the most notable passage in the article:

Melissa Cook said she was confronted with a harrowing decision: Would she abort a baby she was carrying for someone else?

The 47-year-old Californian had agreed to be a surrogate for a postman in Georgia, and she became pregnant last year with three boys. But then, she said later in a lawsuit, the man expressed concerns about his dwindling finances and about the health of the children. He asked her to undergo “selective reduction” to eliminate one of the embryos.

“I am pro life and I am not having an abortion,” Cook told him, according to court documents. “They are all doing just fine.”

She said he told her he considered adoption but thought it would be cruel to separate the triplets and opted for abortion instead. “My decision is made,” she told him, according to documents. “I am so sorry.”

Which begs the most obvious question — why was this Intended Father matched with a Gestational Carrier whose opposed reduction? The follow-up question is why would the Reproductive Endocrinologist, using embryos created from donor eggs, transfer 3 embryos?

As Professor Judith Daar correctly pointed out in the article, there are thousands of successful surrogate arrangements every year in the United States and “the vast majority experience no glitches.” The reason these relationships between Intended Parent and Gestational Carrier do work is because responsible professionals guide the parties through the myriad of issues that can arise.

Just to give you some statistics our office has been collecting over the past 22 years: Since 1979, there have been more than 90,000 successful surrogacy arrangements in the United States. This situation is now only the 12th time that a Gestational Carrier has sought to repudiate the contract and seek to keep the child(ren). There have been 25 traditional surrogates over that time that sought to change their mind. So in the last 36 years, 99.99959% of all surrogate arrangements proceeded without custody issues arising. I would daresay that you will not find a better track record — in any industry in this country.

So using this case as a cause célèbre to justify outlawing surrogacy is nothing short of propaganda designed to advance an extreme right-wing agenda to outlaw IVF, surrogacy and egg donation. Lost in all of this discussion is the fact that 1 out of every 8 couples suffer from infertilty and access to these services offer the only hope they have of becoming parents. Instead of throwing the baby out with the bath water, how about we try a really novel concept — hold those professionals who fail to meet the minimum standard of care accountable for their actions?

This situation was entirely avoidable. It is just common sense that you do not match a pro-life gestational carrier with a pro-choice Intended Father. It really is that simple. All competent agencies doctors, attorneys and mental health professionals know this. It is part of the screening, matching and legal process. Somebody then dropped the ball if this Washington Post story is accurate. Instead of denying millions of people struggling with infertility access to these much-needed technologies, lets just hold professionals accountable for their mistakes — like we do in every other industry in this country.

Do not tar and feather an entire industry for the aberrational mistakes of a few. And lets be sure to look behind the curtain and see who is really behind these recent sensational news stories and their underlying motivation. Once you do, you will realize this is nothing more than anti-choice groups exploiting difficut and tragic situations to advance their own political agenda.


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