By Dan O’Connor, PhD


(CNN) — If you can come up with a tale that better illustrates America’s messed-up moral views on abortion, parenting and personal freedom than the story of Crystal Kelley — the surrogate mother who was offered $10,000 by the parents to abort the fetus she was carrying for them — then you’ve got a better imagination than I do.


Let’s run through the story quickly: Kelley had agreed to be a surrogate and was being paid $2,222 a month by the parents for her trouble. But an ultrasound scan of the fetus showed serious abnormalities. Fearing that the child would never lead a normal life — whatever that may be — the parents asked Kelley to abort.


Although the surrogacy agreement contained a clause to this effect, Kelley refused. This is where things became, to put it charitably, unseemly.


The parents offered Kelly an extra $10,000 to terminate the pregnancy. Although she said she was against abortion for religious and moral reasons, Kelley eventually thought she might be able to quash those ethical qualms if the parents paid her $15,000 — $5,000 apparently being the difference between “against” and “fine with it.” The parents refused, and Kelley says she regretted the offer.


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Dan O\'Connor

Dan O’Connor – Research Scientist, Faculty, Johns Hopkins Berman Institute of Bioethics. Dan has two main research areas: the ethics of social media in healthcare and historicising the ethics of emerging diseases

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One Response to “Surrogate Mother Had the Right to Choose”

  1. Susan Ring says:

    Dan,

    My surrogacy history is a very long one. It ended up in O Magazine in 2003 and then again in 2010. One pair of my intended parents decided they didn’t want the healthy twins I gave birth to and I became the first surrogate mother in the state of CA to become the legal mother to twins that were not related to me.

    I’ve been a surrogate to 8 babies, 3 sets of twins and 2 singletons for 5 different family.

    ONE ISSUE that everyone is missing with this surrogate is that she DID give up her right when she chose to sign the contract. Surrogacy wouldn’t be surrogacy without having some kind of contract.

    This surrogate gave up her Roe v Wade right when she signed that contract. She did not keep her promise to abort if there was a problem. She then fled (kidnapped) the child to another state.

    Not only that but her agency is a well known surrogacy scammer and so many other problems throughout this journey.

    MY point is that a surrogate CAN choose whether or not she will abort or reduce BEFORE the surrogacy happens.

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