Gay Couple Demanded Surrogate Mom Abort Baby When She Found Out She Had Cancer

Bioethics   |   Micaiah Bilger   |   Jul 6, 2023   |   12:33PM   |   Washington, DC

A heartbroken surrogate mother says a California gay couple threatened her with a lawsuit if she refused to abort their unborn son who she was carrying.

Brittney Pearson, 37, of Sacramento, said the threats came after she was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer in her second trimester, and the baby boy is now dead, Townhall reports.

“It was frustrating because I wanted to give them a family,” she told the Daily Mail. “They said they cared but they didn’t. I felt betrayed and heartbroken.”

Last year, Pearson said the gay couple hired her as a surrogate mother, and she became pregnant with a baby boy. Then in May, she said she was diagnosed with cancer; further testing showed the cancer was spreading and she would need intense chemotherapy that could jeopardize the unborn baby’s life.

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“The first thing I thought after I was diagnosed was I want to keep this baby safe and bring it earthside,” she remembered. “I would have been there, I would have given him every chance of survival. I had people ready to help.”

Pearson was about 24 weeks pregnant at the time, meaning the baby potentially could survive outside the womb.

However, she said the couple who hired her wanted the baby to be aborted and threatened legal action if she refused. Pearson said the men argued that the baby could have health problems if he was born prematurely. She said they did not want her or an adoptive couple to raise the child either, because their DNA would be “out there.”

Pearson, who is raising four children of her own, said the men also threatened to sue her agency and medical provider. According to the Mail, “At one point, she claims, her oncology team, after being threatened with legal action, said they were not sure they could give her chemo and would need to consult their own lawyers.”

Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, said Pearson contacted their organization in the midst of her troubles. She said Pearson wanted to give birth to the baby early and begin chemotherapy, with the hopes of saving both their lives.

“But California law recognizes the contracting intended parents in surrogacy arrangements as the legal parents, they alone can make decisions around the care of the baby. In this case, refusing care,” Lahl explained on her organization’s website. “The rights of the mother to direct her own care are undermined, not even allowing her to advocate for her own needs and the needs of the baby she’s about to deliver.”

Lahl said one of Pearson’s doctors even knew of a family willing to adopt the baby, but the couple who hired her refused and “asked that no life saving measures be performed on the baby if he was born alive.”

The Daily Mail reports more about the story:

Pearson told DailyMail.com she found a hospital that would deliver her baby, but would not elaborate on whether or not the procedure was inducement or termination, and whether or not the fetus was born alive.

She would only confirm that it has since died.

‘The baby was born on Father’s Day, my mother got to hold him and take pictures but he did not survive’ she explained.

Pearson said she decided to share her story publicly because she does not want anyone else to suffer through such a terrible experience.

Lahl expressed sympathy for the woman and the baby boy whom she carried, saying, “This case highlights many of the problems with contracted, largely commercial, pregnancy.”

Other surrogates in the U.S. also have come forward publicly to share how they felt pressured to have abortions by the couples who hired them. One, Crystal Kelley, fought back and refused the $10,000 offered to her to abort the baby girl. Later, the girl was adopted into a loving home.

Many countries ban or strictly limit surrogacy because it presents so many legal and ethical problems. However, the United States is an exception, and there are no federal laws regulating the practice.