Opinion

Judge orders Sherri Shepherd to pay child support for surrogate baby she abandoned

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Sherri Shepherd (via Wikimedia Commons/Public Domain)

Sherri Shepherd

Sherri Shepherd will not be able to cut off the baby she chose to abandon, a judge has ruled.

People across the nation were outraged when the details of Shepherd’s abandonment became public. The former co-host of “The View” was married to Lamar Sally, and when the two were battling infertility, they turned to assisted reproductive technology. With a donor egg and a surrogate mother, the two were going to be parents. But halfway through the pregnancy, Shepherd and Sally’s marriage failed. So Shepherd decided that she didn’t want to pay child support — and abandoned the surrogate baby whose life she helped to create.

The little boy, named LJ, was born on August 5th of last year, but Shepherd refused to have her name listed on the birth certificate as his mother, was not present for the delivery, refused to have contact with the child, and even took him off of her health insurance. This was after, according to Sally, she asked for the divorce.

But despite Shepherd’s very best efforts to abandon the boy, she will be held responsible. A judge ruled in April that Shepherd’s name could not be removed from the birth certificate, and that she must pay alimony and child support. Shepherd appealed that ruling — and lost.

The ruling upholds a lower court’s April decision that Shepherd is the legal mother of the baby, named LJ, she had with ex-husband Lamar Sally. Shepherd and Sally used a donor egg for the pregnancy, which was carried by surrogate Jessica Bartholomew. Months into the pregnancy in May 2014, Shepherd and Sally split.

Shepherd’s attorney and manager did not return requests for comment on Monday’s ruling. But in August, the star told PEOPLE she went through with the surrogacy despite her marital problems because she feared Sally would break up with her.

“My situation was a sense of, I didn’t state what I needed and what I wanted and what I didn’t want for being scared of somebody leaving the relationship,” she said. “There are consequences to everything, but I was scared to say, ‘That’s not going to work for me. I don’t want that.’ “

What is so sickening about this case is that this little boy, this child whose life was created in a test tube, was treated as nothing more than a commodity. Shepherd decided to use a baby as a means to save her marriage, even though she now claims that she didn’t actually want the baby. Does she think that her excuse makes it better, I wonder? Because saying that you don’t want a baby but will engineer one to get something you want is horrific. And then when her “plan” didn’t work out, she tried to return the life she intentionally created, and completely avoided any responsibility for the boy, all so that she wouldn’t have to pay child support to the ex-husband with whom she manufactured a baby so that she could save her marriage. It’s completely despicable.

But then, is it really all that surprising? We, as a society, treat children as commodities, as children to be bought and sold and produced on demand. When we’re not ready for babies, we have abortions. But then when we decide that we are ready, we’ll manufacture them in a laboratory and destroy any of the extras. Children exist when we want them to exist, to fill the holes in us that we want them to fill, instead of being independent lives with their own inherent value and dignity.

Sherri Shepherd’s case may be the most notable example, but she is by no means an anomaly. And until we stop commodifying the lives of children, we will continue to see horrific cases like Sherri Shepherd’s.

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