This appalling story shows just some of the things that can happen as a result of IVF. Here are just a few features. Some overlap with each other.
--"Parents" who hire another woman to bear "their" baby, an IVF embryo, though it turns out that the supposed biological mother actually isn't the baby's mother at all, because they used an egg donor.
--The complete post-modernization of the very concept of parenthood.
--"Parents" who at first think of themselves as the child's parents, then, when it turns out the child is imperfect, want the child killed, then, when they can't succeed in getting the child killed, decide they do want to be regarded as her parents, but only so that they can abandon her to the state of Connecticut and no longer be her parents, then, when the birth mother runs away to a state where she will be the child's mother at birth, sue for parental rights for who-knows-what reason, then in the end decide not to challenge the baby's adoption by yet a third set of people provided that they can have occasional reports on her progress. It's make-it-up-as-you-go-along parenthood.
--Direct coercion upon the surrogate to try to get her to have an abortion, followed by attempted bribery when coercion doesn't work.
There are some Christians, mostly among us Protestants, who have accepted IVF as a legitimate way to bring children into the world. I submit that the nightmarish nature of this story should serve as a clue to the contrary--that deliberately bringing a child into existence by IVF is an injustice to the child.
First of all, to answer a possible objection: Some might argue that you cannot do an injustice to a child by the way in which you bring the child into existence, for the child doesn't exist ahead of time to be treated unjustly. But this is by no means obvious. Suppose that genetic engineering of sperm and eggs were possible so that various disabilities in a child conceived by means of those gametes could be induced. Suppose that you deliberately genetically engineered gametes in such a way that a child conceived using them would be permanently paralyzed and then used them to bring an embryo into existence. It seems obvious that this deliberate manipulation so as to bring a child into being who is severely disabled is a wrong to the child thus conceived, even though the child would not have existed had the process not taken place. In other words, it is possible to wrong a child by the way in which you conceive the child.
In IVF, technicians deliberately create a child outside its normal environment (its mother's womb), separated from its mother. IVF involves the deliberate making of a child by a technological act (bringing together gametes in the lab) carried out by unrelated parties, rather than the begetting of a child in an act of love between the mother and father. The child thus made, not begotten, is especially vulnerable from the outset. He can be evaluated, accepted or rejected, frozen, thawed, implanted or deliberately destroyed, given or sold. (I mean the word "sold" quite literally. See here.) And his deliberate rejection and destruction is extremely easy. It requires no physical trauma to anyone else. No one else, no mother (for example) needs to have the slightest opportunity to bond with him physically or emotionally before he is clinically rejected and destroyed. The embryo thus conceived is utterly vulnerable as he would never be in a natural situation, stripped even of the protection of his mother's body or hormonal connections to him, and not having yet developed the human appearance that might attract others to him.
By separating the conception of a child from the love of the mother and father, we de facto make the child into a product rather than a gift. Note that this is not merely a matter of our intention. The child conceived in vitro automatically is especially vulnerable to the evaluations and choices of adults in a way that a child conceived in vivo is not, regardless of whether or not the parents who so conceive the child are nice people or actually treat the child well or not.
In the story here, there is not the slightest doubt that, if the baby's disabilities could have been discerned when she was an embryo prior to implantation, she would have gone into the bio-incinerator. She obtained mercy only because she was implanted in a surrogate who would not reject her later. But this introduced yet a new set of complications.
IVF also raises from the very outset, in a special way that natural conception does not and cannot, the possibility of separating different meanings of "mother." Only through IVF can we separate the biological mother easily and readily from the gestational mother, who can be a surrogate. In the story above, there was yet a further separation, made possible by IVF. The actual biological mother was an egg donor who had gone her way and knew nothing of the fate of any child conceived with her eggs, considering herself to have no further maternal duties to them. One of the "mothers" vying for legal recognition was actually merely the female member of a couple who paid money and contracted to have the child conceived. She had neither a biological nor a gestational connection to the baby, merely the connection of a contract by which she was "intended" to be the mother.
Surrogacy attempts to define parenthood by contract, as in this case. The contracting "mother" was one party in an agreement with the gestational mother, and that agreement declared, among other things, that the gestational mother would kill the child by abortion if it turned out to have serious disabilities. When the gestational mother balked at this, the contracting "parents" (of whom only the man was an actual biological parent) attempted to force the matter by threatening to sue the impoverished surrogate, if she refused to abort, for the monthly fees they had already paid. (The lawyer's letter to this effect is just charming.) Even though that didn't work, one gathers from the story that the contract was at an end when the surrogate refused to abort. She wasn't going to receive any more support during the pregnancy. In Connecticut, the law recognizes surrogacy contracts and would have required the contracting "parents" to be declared the child's legal parents at birth, despite the fact that an egg donor was used. This would then have permitted them to abandon the baby without penalty under a "safe haven" law to the mercies of the Connecticut child welfare system. This is precisely what they intended to do after deciding that they wished to reject the baby. The surrogate (who still had no money) then moved to Michigan, where she would be the child's legal mother at birth. The charming "parents," for reasons best known to themselves, tried to bring a further suit at that point to have their names on the baby's birth certificate, but eventually they gave this up and graciously allowed the "defective" baby girl whom they had wanted killed to be adopted by a family who would love her and care for her.
Let's get this clear: Such things should not be possible. It is the unnatural practice of conceiving children technologically in a laboratory that has turned them into products and that has made such scenarios not only possible but actual.
We ought, therefore, to look back and ask where we went wrong.