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Mother speaks out after surrogate mother has abortion

A woman in New Zealand has spoken out after the surrogate mother of her child aborted her child without her knowledge.

An anonymous couple from New Zealand have spoken about their experience of surrogacy after the surrogate mother, who volunteered her womb to gestate their baby, had an abortion at nine weeks’ gestation without telling the couple.

In New Zealand, the surrogate mother is considered the child’s legal parent and the biological parents must then legally adopt the child after his or her birth. This means that the surrogate mother can abort the baby at any point in the process if she wants to back out. It is illegal to undergo a surrogacy arrangement for payment.

The couple, Jane and John (not their real names), had struggled to conceive and, after having one child, were told that it was very unlikely that they would have a second.

“The hardest part of surrogacy is finding someone and getting pregnant, and the first person I’d opened up to had offered!” said Jane.

In 2019, Jane and the unnamed surrogate mother talked to a clinic.

“We did fertility counselling as singles, couples and as a group, and part of it was a questionnaire around things like termination and whose baby the surrogate sees it as”, said Jane.

“Everything was clear-cut. We had separate solicitors and reports went to the ethics board, and after seeing our case, they didn’t come back and ask any questions. That made me feel very confident”.

The surrogate arrangement was officially approved by the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology, and the couples prepared for the embryo transfer. They had also been approved by an Oranga Tamariki (Ministry for Children) social worker, who determined the child’s best interests were at heart.

Jane believes she should have been told about the abortion before it took place.

The surrogate mother became pregnant with Jane and John’s child in September 2020. Five weeks later though, the surrogate mother told the couple that she had had a miscarriage. However, either by intention or error, this turned out not to be true as she was still pregnant.

By her ninth week of pregnancy, the surrogate mother was suffering from severe prenatal depression and she had an abortion, which her husband eventually admitted to Jane and John.

“His wife had gone to her own doctor and blocked out all the channels we’d put in place”, said Jane. “I went into shock”.

The surrogate’s husband said, “We entered into the agreement with a genuine desire to help. Unfortunately, things did not go to plan and she became very sick with prenatal depression. This is probably a more complicated story than it appears on the surface. Jane and John do not really know the whole situation”.

Jane believes she should have been told about the termination before it took place.

“It was our biological baby and Jenny’s biological sibling. I could’ve explained how it was going to affect the rest of our lives. Even though everyone has walked away from this and even though it’s painful, I’ll talk about it. I never expected I’d have to worry about someone terminating our baby. It never crossed my mind”.

Right To Life UK spokesperson, Catherine Robinson, said: “This is a tragic story at many levels. It used to be the case that there was no difference between the biological mother of a child and the women who carried that child to term. Now though, there is genuine ambiguity about who precisely the child’s mother is”.

“The story also emphasises the loss that every abortion is. If abortion involves the removal of a bunch of cells and is simply a manifestation of a woman’s ‘right to choose’, then it is hard to see how there is anything sad about this story. Yet the very fact that this story is so easily recognised as tragic is precisely because we can sympathise with a woman whose son or daughter was taken away from them by abortion”.

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