A child with Down Syndrome abandoned: the true face of gestational surrogacy


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Gammy, the Down Syndrome children. Copyright : Damir Sagolj Reuters


The abandonment of a child with Down Syndrome, once a surrogate mother had given birth, caused a worldwide outcry. For Jean-Marie Le Méné, the fact of rejecting this disabled child has shattered the myth of ethical gestational surrogacy.

How the birth of a child with Down Syndrome has ruined the idea of gestational surrogacy.

This case of gestational surrogacy, in which an Australian couple kept the healthy child and rejected his twin brother, whom they abandoned to the surrogate mother in Thailand, has led to rather awkward comments. One can see why.

The myth of gestational surrogacy has just been torn to pieces.

With a single wave of a wand, gestational surrogacy has been stripped of its holy image which showed it as the good fairy who provided babies for couples in need.
All of a sudden, the « couple-to- whom-no-one-could-possibly-impose-suffering” turns into a perfectly despicable client who munches his way through the food he likes and leaves the rest on the side for trash.

All of a sudden, the refusal of the mother to abort the twin with Down Syndrome has become an act of resistance.

All of a sudden, the child with Down Syndrome becomes a symbolic victim and triggers international generosity which makes him the beneficiary –in order to help him live- of an amount ten times higher than what had been promised to the unfortunate mother.

In short, it turns out to be just terrible for promoters of gestational surrogacy onto whom their policy has backfired. Stereotypes are being turned around, the logic of gestational surrogacy reversed, Pierre Bergé can go back to his sewing.

When it all started, nothing was meant to go wrong. It was a perfect, traditional couple composed of a man and a woman suffering from infertility. It was therefore practically an ordinary medical prescription for which some kind souls would be tempted to be accommodating (THE case where gestational surrogacy would be acceptable).

The surrogate mother had more than honoured her contract as she had given birth to not one but two children. Was it not good news, for any couple in want of a child, to be surprised with an unexpected overabundance?

No plot had been hatched to derail this train of transgression which was going so well. It was just nature (that, let’s remember, should no longer exist) surreptitiously taking over again. The reality of gestational surrogacy has revealed its true face, i.e., that it is a real pregnancy happening inside a real woman.

First, biology teaches us that assisted procreation leads to more twin pregnancies than ordinary ones. It seems obvious that this kind of situation could happen frequently. Thus, there will be couples who, without there even being a sick baby, will simply refuse to have two children because they only ordered one from the surrogate mother. It will not be seen as an issue, as one can have recourse to selected abortion as was proposed to the young women in Thailand. It is not that simple. The act consists in injecting a lethal product into one of the foetuses, who once dead will remain in utero until the other baby is fully developed. The mother will then give birth to both a dead baby and a living one. Is it necessary to specify that this practice is extremely contested…

What is more, the surrogate mother remains a woman and being human is characterized, whether one likes it or not, by freedom. In this case, the abortion of the twin withDown Syndrome was proposed to the parturient as soon as the prenatal diagnostic for Down Syndrome had been carried out. But, too “bad” for her clients, this young mother of 21, who already had two children, refused to abort, even selectively, and chose to assume the risks she and her family would be facing.

The industry of surrogate motherhood is not doing so well. If it was to be developed, there should have to be ways of avoiding these disruptive outbreaks of nature.
On the one hand, eugenics concerning medically assisted procreation would have to be reinforced in order to be certain that the embryo transferred is free from any disease and, therefore, conduct all the possible preimplantation genetic tests. On the other hand, one would have to accept to carry out embryonic reduction so that only one embryo is left. These safety eugenic requirements do not come for free.

But, more importantly, it will be necessary to insert a clause in the contract that will oblige the surrogate mother to abort in case of overproduction or defect of the baby produced, to refund the buyer if he is not satisfied or to take back the child if the product is sent back.

One does not have to be very clever to understand that it will be difficult, within the surrogate motherhood contract that binds a women to her clients, to oblige a women to abort (or not if the case may be) unless the contract is invalid.

In the end, one can ask oneself, if the purpose of the providential birth of this child with Down Syndrome, which has caused such an outcry worldwide, is not of saving us, at least for the time being, from any hurry in legalizing gestational surrogacy.

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