You may recall that last summer there was a lot of publicity (and a lot of discussion here) about an illegal surrogacy ring that amounted to baby-selling. I won’t rehearse all the details–it was a complicated scheme. (You can find the post if you search for “Erickson.”) Two of the three main actors in the case were lawyers, both well-established in the ART community. This is part of what made it so alarming.
One thing perplexed me through the whole story. The babies were offered to couples for $100,000. Now that sounds like a lot, but that is in the ballpark for what you might pay in a surrogacy case. And the women who gave birth–I won’t call them surrogates, because they don’t fit the description–they were reasonably well paid. Indeed, I recall that their compensation was actually greater than the going rate for a surrogate.
So the question this raised for me was why do this? If you’re charging something in the range of ordinary fees (the 100K) and paying out something in that range, where’s the incentive to take the risk of committing fraud?
Perhaps this tells us something of the answer. Someone did get ripped off here, and it may not have been the intending parents or the prospective surrogate. It was the health care system. A hospital system and the state run medical program are both seeking compensation from Erickson for costs of delivery and medical care. I think ordinarily these costs would be covered by insurance obtained by the IPs. Somehow in this scheme there was no insurance and the IPs wouldn’t be liable for the costs of the faux surrogate giving birth.
But I have to say, I’m not really convinced that Erickson could make so much money by failing to get insurance that it was worth the risk of criminal fraud. So this isn’t really a satisfactory answer. But at least it alerted me that her sentencing is February 24.