Cross-State Surrogacy Legal Battle

A CNN article posted recently tells the story of a woman, Crystal Kelley, who chose to be a surrogate for a couple to supplement her income after losing her job. Ms. Kelley found a couple nearby her hometown in Connecticut and agreed to be their surrogate. Then, during the fifth month of pregnancy after a series of ultrasounds, it was discovered that the unborn child had several potentially life-threatening disorders and abnormalities. The biological parents already had three children who were born premature and with medical problems and two of their three children spent months in the hospital after birth. The couple felt that the surgeries required to keep this child alive would cause it to suffer more than necessary, and felt that the humane option was to terminate the pregnancy.

This is not a debate on the legality or ethics of abortion. The legal battle started when Ms. Kelley refused to have an abortion, even after the biological parents, who were funding her surrogacy and paying all of her medical bills, requested her to have an abortion. They couple offered to pay her $10,000, which would pay the remainder of her $22,000 surrogacy fee (since at this point she was only halfway through) after she ended the pregnancy. Kelley considered this offer, then refused. Both parties hired attorneys and it became a legal battle. The couple considered the unborn child to be theirs, but Kelley also thought she had rights over it since she was physically in control of the child. In Connecticut, the biological parents were considered the legal parents. Ms. Kelley’s solution was to move to a state where surrogacy was not recognized, and therefore she had parental rights of the unborn child. Ms. Kelley moved to Michigan, delivered the child, and gave it up for adoption to another couple also raising children with special needs.

There is no doubt that Ms. Kelley’s actions constituted a breach of contract. Other than the contract and custody issues, could Ms. Kelley’s actions also be considered criminal? Could this be considered theft? Or worse, kidnapping?

Read the full article here: http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/04/health/surrogacy-kelley-legal-battle/index.html?hpt=hp_c1

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