By now you have probably heard the story of baby Gammy, a child with Down Syndrome and other serious health issues (including a hole in the heart). Gammy’s biological parents are Australian, but he’s spent his entire life in Thailand. The Telegraph explains why:
A Thai surrogate mother has received donations from across the world to provide medical treatment for her six-month-old boy, after an Australian couple refused to take the baby on learning he had Down syndrome.
Pattharamon Janbua, 21, was left to care for her critically ill son after the Australian couple who could not have a baby paid her about £6,400 to be a surrogate mother.
The son, named Gammy, was separated from his twin sister, who is healthy and was taken by the Australians.
Pro-lifers are furious with the Australians (who remain anonymous at the time of this writing), pointing out that their behavior treats children as commodities; take the one you “ordered,” reject the “defective” one. Of course, that wasn’t their first choice; initially, when they learned that Gammy had Down Syndrome, they urged Ms. Janbua to have an abortion. Gammy survived because she bravely refused.
This case also raises all the same ethical issues that are raised in surrogate arrangements that don’t go awry, especially the concern for exploitation of impoverished women in the developing world.
As I said, you’ve probably heard this story already, and all the obvious condemnations have already been sounded. I’m writing only to point out two things:
2) Janbua is caring for Gammy, and says: “I felt sorry for the boy. This is the adults’ fault, why does he have to endure this when it’s not his fault? Why does he have to be abandoned while the other baby has it easy? I feel sorry for him.”
I’m going to say something that might be controversial, but that’s never stopped me before, so: I don’t feel sorry for Gammy. At least, not for the reason Janbua does. Obviously I feel bad whenever a baby is sick, I do feel sorry for him on that count. But I don’t feel sorry for him because he didn’t go with his biological parents to Australia. I actually feel sorry for his sister.
A child needs love more than money. Gammy, clearly, is very much loved. He is loved by Janbua, and by the international community raising money for his medical treatment.
His sister may have a more privileged life when it comes to material things. I assume that’s what Janbua meant by “having it easy.” But she will grow up with parents who separated her from her brother, after trying to kill him didn’t work. That’s not unconditional love. Any love she receives from her parents is conditional: conditioned on her health, on the ease of raising her, and on who knows what else.
What do you think? Once the biological parents sought to abort Gammy and failed, would it have made sense for them to take him home? Or is he better off without them?