- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 26, 2017

A surrogate mother who refused to procure an abortion after doctors detected a fetal heart defect gave birth to a baby boy Thursday.

The surrogate, who wished to remain anonymous, told WFAA in Dallas that she is “elated” the boy will receive life-saving treatment.

“Every time I think about it, I break down in joy,” the surrogate said. “There are so many people rooting and praying for this baby boy, the doctors, their staff, the hospital and now the parents. Everyone wants to see success, happiness, and hear what a fighter this precious baby is.”

The baby’s biological parents demanded an abortion after he was diagnosed with hypoplastic left heart syndrome (HLHS) at 16 weeks’ gestation.

The surrogate said the demand left her “completely in shock.”

“I truly didn’t have the slightest idea that would be asked of me,” she said. “At the doctor’s appointment, during the diagnosis, I was asked, how I expected the parents might respond to this news. Frankly, based on what they had told me previously, about their opposition to abortions, I expected they would want to me to carry to term and treat the child. I expected we were all on the same page.”

HLHS can come with lifelong complications, but a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the chance of survival drastically improves with a series of three childhood surgeries. Without surgery, children diagnosed with HLHS will likely not survive beyond a few weeks.

Texas law holds that the surrogate has the right to make all of the health care decisions for the child during pregnancy, Karen Turner, an attorney for the surrogate, told WFAA.

The baby’s biological parents are from out of state, which complicated legal matters.

They considered withholding treatment and opting for comfort care once the baby was born, the surrogate said.

“The mere thought of handing him over to simply let him pass completely tore me up,” she said.

The Dallas County District Attorney’s office confirmed that the biological parents ultimately consented to all necessary medical treatment.

But they also contend the surrogate violated her contract by refusing to procure an abortion, attorneys for the surrogate said, and have not paid or communicated with her directly since the refusal.

The surrogate said her story should inspire the Texas legislature to review laws concerning surrogacy and comfort care.

“This is, also, the most perfect time to choose love instead of hate,” she said. “The parents are real people who are faced with their son having to undergo a major surgery. I want them to feel loved, supported, and commended for their decision to choose life! I want them to know they are in our prayers.”

• Bradford Richardson can be reached at brichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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