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LIFE DIGEST: Pressured surrogate aborts Down syndrome baby; ...
Posted on Oct 15, 2010 | by Tom Strode

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WASHINGTON (BP)--Surrogacy continues to show its dark side.

A surrogate mother in British Columbia aborted a baby under pressure from the biological parents after the child was diagnosed with Down syndrome, a doctor has reported.

The National Post, a Canadian newspaper, reported Oct. 6 the surrogate initially wanted to give birth to the child conceived by in vitro fertilization (IVF). That decision would have freed the parents from any responsibility for their baby under the agreement the three had signed. The surrogate, who has two children, ultimately had an abortion, partly because of her family responsibilities.

Wesley Smith, a bioethics specialist and blogger, called it "[s]ickening on all counts."

"IVF has led to a sense of entitlement to only have a baby we want -- as if a child is a mere consumer product," Smith wrote Oct. 11 on his blog. "Such contracts should be voided by public policy outlawing surrogacy for pay," he wrote. "I mean, if this isn't human trafficking, what is it?"

Information about the case was revealed in a presentation by Ken Seethram, the attending physician, to the Canadian Society of Fertility and Andrology. Seethram said the events in the case occurred in the last year.

Sally Rhoads of Surrogacy in Canada Online told the National Post of another case in which the parents asked for the elimination of one of their children in the womb when it was learned the surrogate was carrying twins. The surrogate lost both children inadvertently. Canadian surrogates are rearing babies in three cases in which the biological parents divorced and reneged on the agreements, Rhoads said.

BORN 20 YEARS POST-CONCEPTION -- A healthy boy has been born nearly 20 years after he was frozen as a one-cell embryo.

The 42-year-old mother, who was not identified, gave birth to the child in May, according to an Oct. 10 NewsCore report based on an article in the journal Fertility and Sterility. She had been undergoing fertility treatments at the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine in Norfolk, Va., for 10 years.

The 20-year lapse between creation of the embryo by IVF and his birth apparently is a record. The longest span previously reported was 13 years, according to the article.

The boy born in May was among five embryos created in 1990. After a child was born to the parents of the quintet created by means of IVF, the couple donated the remaining embryos for adoption. The boy born in May, therefore, has a sibling conceived at the same time who is 20 years old.

LETHAL 'MOTHER' LOVE -- A British advice columnist told a television audience Oct. 3 abortion can be "the act of a loving mother" and killing a suffering child would be something a "good mother" would do.

On BBC One's "Sunday Morning Live," Virginia Ironside said, "Abortion can often be seen as something wicked or irresponsible, but in fact it can be a moral and unselfish act. If a baby is going to be born severely disabled or totally unwanted, surely an abortion is the act of a loving mother."

She also said, "And I think that if I were a mother of a suffering child, I would be the first to want -- I mean a deeply suffering child -- I would be the first one to put a pillow over its face. I would with any suffering thing, and I think the difference is that my feeling of horror [over] suffering is much greater than my feeling of getting rid of a couple of cells because suffering can go on for years."

Host Susanna Reid expressed shock, telling Ironside, who writes for The Independent, her comment about smothering a child to death was a "pretty horrifying thing to say."

Ironside defended her remark, saying, "Of course, I would, if it was a child I really loved who was in agony. I think any good mother would."

A visibly stunned Joanna Jepson, a Church of England chaplain and a fellow panelist on the program, said, "That's just not true."

GUILTY IN BOMB SCARE -- A former abortion clinic director in Tulsa, Okla., pleaded guilty Oct. 7 in a case in which she called in a fake bomb threat to police.

Linda Meek, formerly executive director of Reproductive Services of Tulsa, acknowledged she gave false information in an Aug. 13 call to police, the Tulsa World reported. Her sentencing is set for January.

Meek told federal Judge Clair Eagan she purchased an egg timer, set it so it would tick, placed it inside a box and put it in a trash can before calling police, according to the World.

SANDWICH BAG HELPS SAVE PREEMIE -- A sandwich bag helped preserve the life of a baby girl born 14 weeks early in England.

Lexi Lacey weighed only 14 ounces when she was born in June at Worcestershire Royal Hospital, according to the Telegraph. Health care providers at the hospital, which is equipped to care for babies who are at least 28 weeks of gestation, had to go to the institution's kitchen to find something to keep the 26-week-old preemie warm. A plastic sandwich bag was the "smallest insulating jacket" that could be found, the newspaper reported.

She has grown to a weight of 5 pounds, 6 ounces, the Telegraph reported Sept. 28.

"[I]t's incredible to think that [sandwich bag] saved her life," Chelsea Rowberry, Lexi's 17-year-old mother, told the newspaper. "The doctors told us they had never known a baby born as prematurely as Lexi [to] survive."

Lexi has been home since Sept. 3.
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Tom Strode is the Washington bureau chief for Baptist Press.
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