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ANN ARBOR, MI, March 8, 2013, ( – A surrogate mother refused a $10,000 bribe to have an abortion when the child’s parents were dissatisfied with the prenatal diagnosis. “Baby S.” was diagnosed in utero with a cleft lip and palate, a cyst in her brain, and heart defects, and her parents – names undisclosed – preferred to have her dead than have to care for a disabled child.

She was conceived with an anonymous egg donor by IVF, then frozen. Then, when her parents were ready, she was thawed, as was her also-frozen embryo sibling, and implanted in the uterus of Crystal Kelley, a surrogate. The sibling did not survive the risky thaw and transfer, but Baby S. did, albeit not without injury.

“Given the ultrasound findings, [the parents] feel that the interventions required to manage [the baby’s medical problems] are overwhelming for an infant, and that it is a more humane option to consider pregnancy termination,” the couple’s counselor and maternal fetal medicine specialist wrote a letter to the midwife.

However, abortion wasn’t their decision to make, because Kelley, the surrogate, refused to abort in spite of coercive calls, e-mails, and letters from the couple’s attorney.

Then, the couple offered Kelley a $10,000 bribe. Kelley, recently unemployed, was tempted and countered a demand of $15,000, which the couple declined. However, Kelley had changed her mind almost as soon as she had made the counteroffer.

She would not have the abortion; Kelley was the only person left to fend for the child’s life.

The couple’s attorney, Douglas Fisherman, wrote Kelley, “You are obligated to terminate this pregnancy immediately.” He added, “You have squandered precious time.”

The couple threatened to sue her for $8,000 in surrogacy fees already paid, in addition to medical and legal expenses if she did not abort. They also threatened to place the child in foster care once born.

Despite facing widespread ridicule for protecting Baby S., Crystal Kelly is confident in her decision. She told CNN, “No one else was feeling this pregnancy the way that I was. No one else could feel her kicking and moving around inside,” she said. “I knew from the beginning that this little girl had an amazing fighting spirit, and whatever challenges were thrown at her, she would go at them with every ounce of spirit that she could possibly have.”

“No matter what anybody told me, I became her mother.”

Michael DePrimo took Kelley’s case pro bono. He explained that, “abortion is off the table and will not be considered under any circumstance.”

While the Supreme Court Decision Roe v. Wade decriminalized abortion, laws also protect women from forced abortion. No woman can be contractually bound to an abortion.

DePrimo assisted Kelley in relocating from Connecticut, where surrogates have no parental rights, to Michigan where they do.She also had the full resources of the University of Michigan's C. S. Mott Children's Hospital, a leader in cardiac treatment for children. In Michigan, Kelley found adoptive parents for Baby S. who were already raising children with disabilities.

Then, the original legal parents sued for custody, but wound up dropping the suit in exchange for being able to stay in contact with and apprised of Baby S. condition. They have since visited and held the child that could have been theirs.

Baby S. was born with holoprosencepahy – a condition in which the brain is one lobe instead of two – with facial deformities and heterotaxy – a mislocation of organs in chest and abdomen.

She will have surgeries throughout childhood for her cleft lip and palate, single-lobed brain, misplaced organs, an extra spleen, her deformed ear, problems resulting from an abnormally small head, and heart defects.

She is underweight at eight months and only eleven pounds. She remains attached to a feeding tube.

All of the procedures carry significant risk. Even if successful, she has only a 50 percent chance of learning to talk, walk, and develop normal hand dexterity. Yet her proud adoptive parents boasted to CNN, “S. wakes up every single morning with an infectious smile. She greets her world with a constant sense of enthusiasm.”

“Ultimately, we hold onto a faith that in providing S. with love, opportunity, encouragement, she will be the one to show us what is possible for her life and what she is capable of achieving,” she said.


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