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A Surrogate Mom's Courage

A Baby is Not a Product



When you pay that much for a baby, naturally you want a return policy. One couple did, but the surrogate said no...to $10,000. Stay tuned to BreakPoint.

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John Stonestreet

Imagine for a moment you’re a young, single mom. You’ve just lost your job as a nanny for other people’s kids. You’re in a tight spot. Then another couple offers you $20,000—or two thousand, two hundred and twenty-two dollars a month—to carry their baby to term. That’s a lot of money, and can help solve some of your financial problems.

So ten days after accepting their offer, the embryos are implanted in your womb. A blood test shows one of the embryos has “taken,” so to speak, so you’re pregnant; you’re excited, and so are the prospective parents who call every day as you experience morning sickness.

But then one day, with the couple standing behind you and the ultrasound technician holding the wand over your stomach, you receive bad news. The baby—a girl—has a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in the brain, and a complex heart abnormality. She’ll need several heart surgeries. While she’ll likely survive the pregnancy, she will only have a 25 percent chance of having a quote – unquote “normal life.”

The couple, who already have a couple of special needs children, don’t want another one and say the most “humane option” for this child is “pregnancy termination.” But this baby girl is in your uterus. They won’t budge. This isn’t the baby they ordered. They offer you an extra $10,000 to have an abortion.

Well, this really happened to surrogate mother, Crystal Kelley, but she said “no thanks.” “I can’t tell you,” Kelly said, “how many people told me that I was bad, that I was wrong, that I should go have an abortion, and that I would be damned to hell.”

When the prospective parents threatened her legally, Kelley moved to another state where her rights as the mother were recognized. She gave birth to the child, known as Baby S., who was then adopted into a loving family that has experience with special needs kids.

“No one else was feeling this pregnancy the way that I was,” Kelly said. “No one else could feel her kicking and moving around inside…. I became her mother.”

What courage—especially these days, when abortion is a thing expected for disabled children, and when so many things come down to money. We all should be so willing to take a stand for life, even when it costs us something. While Kelley’s first choice to be a surrogate mother wasn’t a good one, her second choice was. Thank God for this spared life.

And friends, the twists and turns of this case point to how far technology has outrun our ethics. Our concern just can’t be about whether we conceive human life, but how we conceive it. Catholic and Protestant theologians throughout the centuries recognized not only the sanctity of human life from the earliest stages, but also the essential relationship between sexual union and procreation. Cavalierly divorcing one from the other carries great risks for individuals, the church and society. The law is struggling to manage our illusions of autonomy. In this case, the definition of who was the mom changed from one state to the next.

Technology without ethics makes things possible that ought not be. And in the case of reproductive technology, a culture of consumerism turns procreation into an industry. Babies become products, and efficiency and choice become the measuring sticks of human dignity.

Newsletter_Gen_180x180_BAnd the ever-increasing expectation to abort supposedly “imperfect” children reveals we think this way. What happens when you don’t get what you ordered… the wrong coffee at Starbucks, the wrong color carpet, the wrong Christmas gift? You send it back, right? You demand a refund. Well, why not do the same thing with babies? It’s the inevitable consequence when rampant consumerism meets the culture of death.

I thank God that Christians have been on the forefront of defending the unborn from the immoral taking of life. But as my friend Scott Rae has said, that’s pro-life 1.0. We must now concern ourselves with how life is made—that’s pro-life 2.0.

Correction: Early this morning - March 21 - we had the incorrect commentary posted.
The title is "Sprinting Towards Gomorrah." Please look for that commentary on radio and at BreakPoint.org tomorrow, March 22. We apologize for the confusion.

Further Reading and Information

BP-Takeaction_032113A Surrogate Mom's Courage: A Baby is Not a Product - Next Steps

Can you say NO to the culture of death? Chrystal Kelley did. She lost a lot of money and heaped abuse on herself. But she did the right thing – she embraced motherhood. The consumer culture doesn't work well when children's lives are at stake. Steel yourself and speak out. Tell those you know and love what the real issues are.


Articles:

Surrogate Mom Given $10K to Abort “Imperfect Baby,” Rejects Offer
Steven Ertelt | Lifenews.com | March 5, 2013

Baby Shopping: The Clash of Worldviews in Bioethics
Michael Poore | BreakPoint.org | July 21, 2008

Surrogate offered $10,000 to abort baby
Elizabeth Cohen | CNN.com | March 6, 2013

Books:

The Reproduction Revolution: A Christian Appraisal of Sexuality, Reproductive Technologies, and the Family
John Frederic Kilner, David W. Hager, Paige C. Cunningham | William B. Eerdmans | January 2000

Recall Abortion: Ending the Abortion Industry's Exploitation of Women
Morana, Janet, Pavone, Fr Frank, Tomeo, Teresa | Saint Benedict Press | February 2013

Websites:

Center for Bioethics and Culture Network

Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity

The Humanitas Forum on Christianity and Culture

 


Comments:

IVF problems
CSears,
IVF is immoral because, as John put it, it is technology beyond ethic restraint. God called us to be fruitful and multiply within the context of marital love. IVF utilizes the context of a laboratory.
After several life-threatening diseases, I was told I would never have children naturally. My wife understood and we chose to pursue adoption. Does that mean God doesn't love us? No. But it means he called us to something different. Your daughters are gifts from God and loved by Him--He would never hold your poor decision against them. But that does not mean your decisions were moral.
John points out the problem of existing embryos. They should be implanted, since they already exist, but we should not be creating them artificially in the first place. It would be worse to allow that human life to die or be manipulated by researchers.
Dear CSears,

Thanks for your comment. I am sorry that you perceived this commentary as a personal slight or as uniformly condemning all reproductive technologies.

I do think you misunderstood. IVF wasn't mentioned in the commentary, and reproductive technology driven by consumerism (where babies are treated as products) and illusions of autonomy (where we think we have a "right" to the babies we want and "cavalierly" pursue our ends at all costs) was what I spoke about, not reproductive technology per se. I would ask you to read through the text of the commentary again and see if perhaps you misunderstood.

Of course, many Protestant and Catholic ethicists have raised questions specifically about IVF worthy of our consideration. While Catholic ethicists mostly condemn IVF altogether due to particular theological commitments, many Protestants (including myself) would look at issues like the creation of excess embryos that are then disposed of or used for medical testing as ethically problematic - not necessarily the procedure itself. As I said in the commentary, it's technology without ethics that is getting us in so much trouble, not the technology itself.

I always appreciate hearing from a faithful listener, and I do hope this clarification helps.

Blessings,

John Stonestreet
Surrogate Mom's Courage
John, I'm an avid follower of your daily BreakPoint commentaries and the Colson Center in general. But today, you almost lost a follower. My wife and have been blessed beyond measure by three amazing, wonderful, Christ-loving daughters...all born by invitro fertilization from donor eggs. You have summarily stated that all assisted reproduction, absent direct sexual intercourse, is somehow unGodly and unChristian. Please provide me the Biblical text you're relying on when making those allegations and conclusions. Of course many of the implications you judge harshly are real and your concern justified. But to sumarily assert that only pregnancies arising from natural intercourse are somehow right in God's eyes presumes too much. I lost a great deal of respect for you today.




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