Abortion & Selective Reduction Issues in Surrogacy – Do Not Think It Can’t Happen to You

Selective reduction issues and abortion issues are hot topics in the world of surrogacy. Often, these topics are pushed to the side and not even discussed until the surrogate pregnancy has begun. It is extremely important that these surrogacy issues are worked through and placed into an agreement.

The unfortunate truth, especially when dealing with gestational surrogacy, is that selective reduction and abortion does happen. These selective reduction issues need to be discussed at the very beginning of the surrogate matching process,long before the contract phase.

There is no reason for a surrogate mother who is morally or religiously opposed to selective reduction and abortion to enter into an agreement with a set of intended parents who would choose to reduce or abort in certain circumstances.

There are plenty of intended parents out there who are also morally or religiously opposed to these selective reduction issues. This site is not intended to give an option either way on if selective reduction or abortion are wrong, or acceptable.

Selective Reduction

Selective reduction occurs, usually in a gestational arrangement, when the surrogate pregnancy contains multiple fetuses. Selective reduction rarely occurs with twins, sometimes with triplets, but usually when the surrogate carries quadruplets or more.

It is the general opinion that it is safer for the surrogate pregnancy to reduce the fetuses down to two. What this means is that the doctors will choose two babies to survive, and will abort the remaining fetuses.

It is OK for a surrogate mother to refuse to participate in selective reduction. It is NOT OK for a surrogate mother who knows she would never participate in selective reduction to enter into a surrogacy contract with a set of intended parents who would wish to selectively reduce.

Do Not Think It Cannot Happen To You

Too many surrogates and intended parents have taken the “it won’t happen to me” attitude and have lived to regret it. Ask the following questions regarding these issues as you prepare your contract:

  • Will the surrogate mother be required to selectively reduce triplets to twins if recommended by the attending doctor and wanted by the intended parents?
  • How about quadruplets to twins?
  • Will the surrogate mother or the intended parents refuse to reduce under any circumstances?

Whatever the answers are to these questions, it all needs to be clearly spelled out in the contract.

Keep in mind that this issue goes both ways. Intended parents that would not choose to reduce the number of fetuses to twins should not enter into an agreement with a surrogate who would not want to carry triplets under any circumstances.

Whether you are the surrogate mother or intended parents, do not sign a contract if you are uncomfortable with this section. Do not assume that it will not happen to you.

Multiples are very common in gestational surrogacy, and though rare, can occur in traditional surrogacy as well. The intended parents and surrogate mother need to make sure they are on the same page on these very difficult issues before getting to the contract phase.


Though rarer than selective reduction, the issue of abortion needs to be discussed, again, in advance of the contract phase. This process does not insure that the child born via surrogacy will be perfectly healthy, and free of serious medical issues.

Some intended parents want the option of having the surrogate mother abort if it is found that the surrogate baby she carries has a serious medical defect.

Others would not abort under any circumstances. Ask the following questions when preparing the contract:

  • Will the intended parents wish the surrogate mother to abort the child if it is found to have Down’s syndrome, or another issue?
  • Will the surrogate mother absolutely refuse to abort for any reason?

The surrogacy contract should clearly state what will happen in the event that selective reduction issues or abortion come into play. It is very important, for this reason that you match with intended parents who have the same views on these selective reduction issues.

Ultimately, no matter what the surrogacy contract states, it is the surrogate mother’s exclusive legal right to agree or disagree to selective reduction or abortion. She has the option at any time to continue or end the pregnancy, and there is nothing the intended parents can do to alter the fact that this is her exclusive right.

If the surrogate mother breaches the contract, however, by aborting or refusing to abort fetuses as stated in the surrogacy contract, she may have to face financial repercussions as outlined in the surrogacy agreement.

How do you feel about abortion/selective reduction when it comes to IVF?

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