First Sentencing in Baby-Selling Case

Hilary Neiman has become the first defendant to be sentenced in the Theresa Erickson/Hilary Neiman baby-selling case.  I wrote about it last summer from the perspective of a former Intended Parent, but here’s a quick refresher: the attorneys (Erickson and Neiman) created embryos from egg and sperm donors, hired gestational carriers to carry the embryos and then told prospective parents that the original surrogacy arrangement had fallen apart and for a large fee, created documents that alleged that the new parents had entered into a pre-pregnancy agreement with the gestational carrier, allowing the parents’ names to be on the birth certificate.

In other words, baby selling.

Neiman has been sentenced to 5 months in prison, to seven months of home detention, to forfeit $133,000 in profits and to set aside $20,000 for restitution.  Erickson and Chambers will be sentenced in 2012.

I have no legal training, so I don’t know if the sentence is appropriate, especially when it comes to baby selling and human trafficking.  I am glad to see that Neiman will receive prison time.  Even though it’s only a few months, the crime seems to warrant incarceration to send a message.

I also wonder if the sentence is enough to make up for all the damage that she and Erickson have caused the surrogacy and infertility community.  Thanks to them, the stereotype of desperate infertiles, hungry for a baby at any cost has been upheld.  Thanks to them, gestational carriers are portrayed as money-hungry.  And thanks to them, the practice of surrogacy again appears far outside the mainstream and of dubious ethics.

Perhaps I’m not giving the public the benefit of the doubt when it comes to their ability to understand the nuances of this case but based on what I read every time an article comes about infertility or surrogacy, I don’t think my assumptions are off track.

Thanks, ladies.  I can’t wait for the inevitable Lifetime movie.

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4 comments

  1. While I completely agree that the actions of these attorneys was morally reprehensible. (As an attorney, I find myself disgusted by the avarice displayed by their actions, and recognize that these types of lawyers are what’s wrong with my profession.) but I can’t help but believe that some good came out of this. Children were born that would not otherwise have been born. Those children likely went into loving homes with parents who desperately wanted them. I don’t imagine that those families regret for an instant the existence of their children; children that might otherwise never existed. And I hope that those children go on to make the world a better place.
    I know I am not part of the surrogacy and infertility community, but I have a stepdaughter. Her origins and biological mother do not present the nicest story and require constant explanations to those who aren’t already familiar with the story. At the same time, she’s my child too (while I’m not her “mother” I identify with that “other mother” you wrote about recently, especially given the negative stereotypes of stepmothers within our society) and I can’t bring myself to regret the circumstance which led to her existence.
    While everyone is right to be angry with these attorneys, the Pollyana in me wants everyone to think of these families and these children, and hopefully find the good in the bad, especially this time of year.
    I pre-apologize if I offended anyone.

    1. You’re right – these children wouldn’t be in the world otherwise, and I am not sorry about that. It’s just the end result of the children is sullied by their origins. How will the children feel when it ultimately comes out that they are the result not of loving intent but of greed?

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