Crystal Kelley wanted to give the gift of a baby to a family who couldn’t have children. She also needed the money that surrogacy brings. And so, she ended up becoming a surrogate mother to a couple in her state of Connecticut who had three children but wanted more. The first half of the pregnancy was friendly and happy, with Kelley and the parents communicating regularly.
Then there was an irregular ultrasound. After several more ultrasounds, the picture was clear: this was a baby who would be born with some disabilities. She had a cleft lip and palate, a cyst on her brain, and a heart defect. The baby’s parents immediately began to pressure Kelley to have an abortion, claiming it was the more “humane” option. Now, most decent people wouldn’t consider it humane to rob a child of her life simply because she might have a disability. This was the way that Kelley felt, and she refused to have an abortion.
First, the couple begged her to abort the baby, according to CNN:
“They were both visibly upset. The mother was crying,” she remembers. “They said they didn’t want to bring a baby into the world only for that child to suffer. … They said I should try to be God-like and have mercy on the child and let her go.”
“I told them that they had chosen me to carry and protect this child, and that was exactly what I was going to do,” Kelley said. “I told them it wasn’t their decision to play God.”
Then she walked out of the room.
Then they tried to bribe her, offering her $10,000 to have an abortion. They had someone meet with her and explain just how terrible this baby’s life would be. Kelley was also informed that if she had the baby, the parents would refuse to be the child’s legal parents.
The mother noted that the surrogacy agency was getting in touch with Kelley, and a few days later, Kelley received an e-mail from Rita Kron at Surrogacy International telling her that if she chose to have the baby, the couple wouldn’t agree to be the baby’s legal parents.
“You will be the only person who will be making decision (sic) about the child, should the child is born,” Kron wrote.
… Kron took Kelley to lunch.
“She painted a picture of a life of a person who had a child with special needs. She told me how it would be painful, it would be taxing, it would be strenuous and stressful. She told me it would financially drain me, that my children would suffer because of it,” Kelley remembers.
When money didn’t work, they tried threats, hiring a lawyer who told her she had no choice but to comply with their demands.
On February 22, 2012, six days after the fateful ultrasound, Kelley received a letter. The parents had hired a lawyer.
“You are obligated to terminate this pregnancy immediately,” wrote Douglas Fishman, an attorney in West Hartford, Connecticut. “You have squandered precious time.”
On March 5, Kelley would be 24 weeks pregnant, and after that, she couldn’t legally abort the pregnancy, he said.
“TIME IS OF THE ESSENCE,” he wrote.
Fishman reminded Kelley that she’d signed a contract, agreeing to “abortion in case of severe fetus abnormality.” The contract did not define what constituted such an abnormality.
Kelley was in breach of contract, he wrote, and if she did not abort, the parents would sue her to get back the fees they’d already paid her — around $8,000 — plus all of the medical expenses and legal fees.
At that point, Kelley hired her own lawyer, who took on the case pro bono. Kelley moved to Michigan at seven months pregnant, where she would be named the baby’s mother. She found an adoptive family willing to take the baby. The biological parents tried to fight that, too. Ultimately, the adoption went through, and the biological parents have kept in touch, visiting the baby.
This story is disturbing on so many levels. Here is a child with some medical problems and the potential to have some disabilities. And the immediate response from the people who wanted a child, and were supposed to love and protect her, was immediately to do everything they could to keep her from having a life. When that didn’t work, they then tried to ensure that she wouldn’t have a promising life, making her live in foster care, and attempting to keep her away from a family that knew about her medical issues and was still willing to love and care for her.
Not once did these people ever think of her as a human being. They didn’t deem her as worthy of life, so, as Kelley said, they decided that they wanted to play God. The fact that it’s possible for people to kill a baby, simply because that baby has a disability, is abhorrent. Who gets to decide whether someone should be able to live? Who gets to decide what a person’s quality of life will be?
It’s unclear what this baby’s future will be. She has several risky surgeries ahead of her. She may not be able to walk or talk. But she smiles, laughs, plays with toys. She may not have a long life, or what people consider a fulfilling life. But why is it that we get to choose that for other people? Why do people feel entitled to make this decision for someone else? Apparently, if a baby has any medical issues discovered prenatally, then the “right” thing to do is automatically rob her of her chance to live.
What kind of upside-down world do we live in when killing someone is considered more humane than letting her live? Where babies are allowed to live only if they’re perfect?