Surrogate Didn't Want Abortion: Whose Fetus Is It Anyway?

Jeanne Sager

pregnantyFor pro-life supporters, the Canadian surrogate carrying a fetus that tested positive for Down syndrome who didn't want to abort -- despite the biological parents' wishes -- had one clear path. But for once pro-choice supporters have no clue which side to land on.

The result is an international debate over just whose fetus it is anyway.

After all, the surrogate mother -- or gestational carrier as she's technically termed when she has no biological ties to the fetus -- has the rights to decide what happens to her own body. But shouldn't the man and woman who provided the genetic material have a say what happens with said material?

The pro-choice line calls for women to be allowed to make their own choice about their own bodies. In this case, that's clearly that of the gestational carrier.

It's her body, her uterus, and her labia that would have to be spread open to allow a D&C.

But then there's the rights of a mother and father not to raise a child with special needs that they don't feel prepared to deal with. For every parent who gratefully brought a child into this world with some sort of disability or illness that required extra care, there is another wishing he or she could turn back the hands of time.

Advances in medical technology have given us the chance to see into the future, and the chance to change it.

So whose choice is it?

In the Canadian case, the National Post reports it came down to no choice at all. The surrogate gave in out of issues in her own family. She went for the abortion. It is said to be her decision. 

And so choice won out. But while bioethicists are busy discussing surrogacy contracts and whether they really hold weight in these matters, the matter of choice remains on the table. A surrogate chooses to become one. She knows what that entails -- and that it could come down to a fetal abnormality (like any other pregnancy).

Does a woman lending her womb out give up her rights to it for those nine months?


Image via sarihuella/Flickr

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