A Thai surrogate gave birth to twins, one of whom has Down Syndrome. The Australian parents decided to abandon the child with a disability, leaving him behind with the surrogate.
According to several media articles, the parents asked the surrogate to have an abortion when they found out one of the babies would be born with Down Syndrome, and she refused because it was against her beliefs.
This tragic story serves as a reminder in Canada about the importance of having an agreement between the intended parents and surrogate that expressly contemplates what will happen if a serious genetic disorder is predicted during the pregnancy. Significant decisions such as whether to abort a pregnancy should be mutually agreed upon before the surrogate is impregnated.
It also highlights the risk of travelling abroad to a jurisdiction in which commercial surrogacy is legal – when conflicts arise, there can be complicated and expensive jurisdictional issues to be resolved.
It appears there were also numerous issues involving the surrogacy agency that facilitated the relationship. There are conflicting reports that suggest the agency did not advise the parents about the genetic risk until the 7th month of pregnancy, did not tell the parents that there were two babies, and did not pay the surrogate the full amount owing to her.
Intended parents in all parts of the world should thoroughly and carefully research surrogacy agencies before proceeding with one particular agency. If there are red flags, it is best to look elsewhere.
UPDATE: According to more recent news reports, the surrogate did not allow the Australian parents to take the boy with them back to Australia because she feared they would “put him in an institute”.
Photo credit: B&B Fotografía 2013 / Foter / Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)
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