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The Down’s syndrome surrogacy story is horrible. But Britain has no right to sneer

4 August 2014

8:15 PM

4 August 2014

8:15 PM

To look on the heartwarming side, Australians have shown that they are rather more humane as a nation than the anonymous couple in the news for allegedly discarding one of the twins borne for them by a Thai surrogate six months ago. Scores of Australians have volunteered to adopt Gammy, the Down’s syndrome baby that was commissioned from Pattaramon Chanbua by an Australian couple only to be abandoned by his parents when they discovered his condition; they took  his healthy twin sister though (and the couple now deny knowledge of Gammy). The fund to pay for the baby’s medical treatment, generously funded by Australians, now stands at more than $180,000.

The other party to come well out of it is obviously the unfortunate surrogate mother, Pattaramon Chanbua, who declined to abort the baby when its condition was discovered at four months’ gestation. She says she loves the baby as her own, as you would, having carried it. And she has done a public service by warning other Thai women from engaging in surrogacy:

‘…don’t get into this business as a surrogate… Don’t just think only for money … if something goes wrong no one will help us and the baby will be abandoned from society, then we have to take responsibility for that.’

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It would be good to think that other poor Thai women will decline to provide gestation services for wealthy foreign couples as a result of the publicity; I rather worry though that the only effect will be to advertise the sums that these couples pay for it – £16,000 in her case, enough to educate her two other children.

The surrogacy industry doesn’t come well out of this, does it? The commodification of human life that goes with the IVF trade has its logical conclusion in what is alleged here: in the rejection of the human product that doesn’t come up to customer expectations. If you separate genetic parenthood from gestational parenthood and possibly also from the humdrum business of raising the baby, and make it a matter for commercial transaction, then you’re going to de-humanise the business of procreation. Yotam Ottolenghi, the celebrity chef who recently had his baby, Max, from a surrogate, says that in Britain surrogates should be allowed to take payment. This case, I think, suggests that controls over this whole womb-renting business should be even tighter.

But I don’t think Britons can sneer at the Australian couple here, who apparently regarded themselves as ‘too old’ – the husband’s in his fifties – to look after this unfortunate child. According to the most recent figures, from 2012, as many as 994 foetuses with Down’s syndrome were aborted in Britain. And because the abortion is on the basis of disability, you do know that it can happen at any time, right up to birth? Nope, when it comes to discarding human beings on the basis that they’re not up to standard, I really don’t think Britain can take the moral high ground.

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Show comments
  • samyar

    It’s more than the surrogacy industry who come out looking badly here.
    The entire modern concept of becoming a parent as a vanity exercise must
    be addressed.

    کرکره برقی
    درب اتوماتیک


    کرکره برقی

    درب اتوماتیک

    کرکره برقی

    کرکره برقی
    زومر
    درب پارکینگ

  • The Masked Marvel

    It’s more than the surrogacy industry who come out looking badly here. The entire modern concept of becoming a parent as a vanity exercise must be addressed.

  • Swamp-dweller

    What we have here is an emotional response to what is basically a business decision. The fact is, rightly or wrongly, the surrogate was contracted to perform a service, i.e. act as an incubator for another couple’s children. That is the point to remember, the children were not hers, she should have had no say in what happens to them. She breached that contract when she refused the abortion. Remember, they were NOT her children. Yet she decided to keep the child with Down Syndrome.
    And, why has it taken 6 months for this to be revealed? What is the ulterior motive?
    The fact is, if any-one has acted illegally, it has been the surrogate, and now she must live with the consequences of her actions.
    And at last count, over AU$200,00 has been raise. That’ll go a long way in Thailand!
    Maybe she’s not so silly after all!!

    • Nan

      No. She did not contract to murder a baby.

      • Swamp-dweller

        Not her baby, not her call. Having declined to abide by her contract, she now has to be responsible for the consequences.

  • Cymrugel

    This should surprise no-one. Its an inevitable result of turning the production of children into a financial transaction.

  • Archibald Heatherington

    Who says the womb can’t be a commodity? It may seem unpleasant to many people, but it’s the most valuable resource a lot of women have, and I’d bet there are plenty of men who’d happily act as paid surrogates if they could.

    • andagain

      If it’s acceptable to do something for free, I don’t see why its wrong to do it for money.

  • Archibald Heatherington

    Oh, would you look at that. My comment was removed.

  • Lady Magdalene

    If the father considers himself too old to look after Gammy, he had no business becoming a father at his age.
    ALL children are exhausting. There is a very good reason why the human body (male and female) is programmed for parentage at a young age.
    What a nasty, selfish couple they must be.

    • Cymrugel

      I am older than this man and have no doubt at all that I would be able to look after a baby perfectly well – better now in fact than when I was younger and more self absorbed.
      The fellow is simply making excuses.

  • Archibald Heatherington

    Who says the womb can’t be a commodity? It may seem unpleasant to many people, but it’s the most valuable resource a lot of women have, and I’d bet there are plenty of men who’d happily act as paid surrogates if they could.

    • Archibald Heatherington

      Be quiet, past-me!

  • Shorne

    It now appears that the husband has served a prison sentence for offences against girls under 10 years of age and while serving that sentence was further sentenced for similar offences against girls under 13. His wife has apparently confirmed this. The ‘healthy’ child should be removed from them immediately.

    • Lady Magdalene

      If that’s the case, I agree.

    • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

      OMG as a young person would say. Jesus wept.

  • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCRae5mRoRE Shenandoah

    I can’t imagine being a surrogate for any money. But how on earth do you get surrogates without payment?! If I had no other options in life, a rentable womb (horrid thought), and the stamina to see it through, I’d charge $1 mill, plus an extra 50 Gs for expenses and a further $450 Gs because childbirth is no picnic. Anything less: Take a hike!

    As for the moral high ground: Would you want to be a Down’s syndrome baby? Adult? I wouldn’t. Down’s syndrome don’t forget is not a normal part of human reproduction, but instead is the result of pushing the envelope when we are no longer in our prime. Reproduction is still for young people, and we lose sight of that at our peril.

    • MrsDBliss

      I think that’s grounds for criticism of fertility treatements not Down’s syndrome children. Particularly as Down’s syndrome can be conceived through normal reproduction. I have Freud s with downs children in their early thirties.
      Having one leg isn’t desired by most people, it doesn’t justify denying your children because they have it. It’s not just taking the moral high ground to criticise the abandonment of a child in these circumstances.

    • Fergus Pickering

      That is bollocks. Anyone can have a Downs baby.

      • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylaynrlTEOI Shenandoah

        No it’s not bollocks. It’s famously an older-parents’ risk.

  • globalissues

    Support the Foreign Aid there are so many young people suffering with same issues.

    • MrsDBliss

      This isn’t a result of a need for foreign aid; Western Australians aren’t in poverty.

  • http://owsblog.blogspot.com Span Ows

    At the risk of sounding cruel (as I do not know the full details of the Australian couple) but if they are too old to look after a child – with a syndrome or not – then just WTF are they doing paying a surrogate anyway? Why not get a dog to look after and pet in their retirement. Why not adopt an older child saving their daughter the embarrassment of saying ‘no they are not my grandparents’ when they take her to school. And just to top off my cruelty, if they can’t conceive then maybe they should just take that as a sign.

    • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qCRae5mRoRE Shenandoah

      The amazing thing about great disappointment is that so often you can get over it. That door shuts, but others open. In any case the baby desire is one that I have never really understood. I lack the ‘maternal instinct’, and many women do. As one woman I worked with put it: ‘I don’t do babies’.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Well, suit yourself. But why do I want to know? Iam a man. I had never thought about children until we had two daughters. I now realise it is the most important thing in my life.

        • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylaynrlTEOI Shenandoah

          It could never be the most important thing in my life, even if I’d had it/wanted it. The most important thing in my life is being the best person I can be, and making the happiest circumstances for myself and those I love. For me that means the life of the mind and the health of the body.

          • Fergus Pickering

            To each his own. Tat all sounds a bit high-flown, if I may say so.

            • https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ylaynrlTEOI Shenandoah

              I am high-flown but also totally sincere. That is an accurate and precise description of how I see my life.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Indeed so. I respect your sincerity.

        • StephanieJCW

          But not everyone feels that way.

          Even after becoming parents (see; Social Services)

    • StephanieJCW

      If options are there why should they ‘take it as a sign’?!

      It’s only when it comes to medical assistance regarding procreation we have that attitude. It’s odd.

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