More light has been shed on the web of legal and moral dilemmas surrounding artificial reproduction this week after a B.C. fertility doctor revealed a dispute between a couple and their surrogate over the couple’s desire to abort their baby. The National Post reports that the parents had discovered through a first trimester ultrasound that the child likely had Down syndrome.
The surrogate, a mother of two, initially disagreed with the parents and decided to give birth to the child; however, she eventually decided to abort, according to the Post. The parties had signed an agreement saying that the parents would not be responsible for their child should the woman carry the pregnancy to term against the parents’ wishes.
Dr. Ken Seethram, who oversaw the case, discussed the situation, which took place within the last year, in a presentation last week at a conference of the Canadian Society of Fertility and Andrology. Seethram, who works at Pacific Centre for Reproductive Medicine, argued that the situation suggests there is no need for the government to oversee contracts between parents and surrogates.
Sally Rhoads, a former surrogate who runs a website supporting those involved in “third party reproduction,” told the Post that parents should be “protected” in the event of a disagreement over whether to have the unborn baby killed by abortion or not. “The baby that’s being carried is their baby. It’s usually their genetic offspring,” she said. “Why should the intended parents be forced to raise a child they didn’t want? It’s not fair.”
However, Juliet Guichon, a bioethicist with the University of Calgary, said that children cannot be treated the same as any other product that might be created on an assembly line. “Should the rules of commerce apply to the creation of children? No, because children get hurt,” Guichon told the Post. “It’s kind of like stopping the production line: ‘Oh, oh, there’s a flaw.’ It makes sense in a production scenario, but in reproduction it’s a lot more problematic.”
According to Dr. John Shea, a leading Canadian bioethicist and expert on reproductive technologies, the situation highlights the dangers of Canada’s liberal laws concerning the beginning of life. “When you break the moral law, you end up with a thousand different problems, foreseen or unforeseen,” he said.
“There’s so many basic things wrong here,” Shea told LifeSiteNews.com. He insisted that the conceived child has “the ultimate right from God Himself to be allowed to be born.” “Any of the shenanigans that go on between the would-be parents and this woman [the surrogate] is an irrelevancy,” he said. “The moral law is the moral law.”
Dr. Shea also sharply criticized the practice of surrogacy, and artificial reproduction as a whole. He pointed out that in order for one embryo to successfully implant, doctors artificially conceive many more, which are discarded or frozen. In Canada, they actually implant a few in the hope that one will survive. He also pointed out that the semen is taken from the man by way of masturbation.
He said that artificial reproduction has also been shown to be dangerous for the child, with, for example, a much-increased instance of prematurity and thus the corresponding health risks.
“The child should be conceived by sexual intercourse in marriage,” he maintained. “It’s entitled to be conceived in that fashion.”