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A US couple has withdrawn their Australian defamation case against ABC, after they originally alleged the broadcasting company had portrayed them in a bad light, suggesting that they abandoned their surrogate child in the Ukraine due to a disability. ABC produced both a Foreign Correspondence episode and a website article, addressing surrogacy issues in the Ukraine. The couple was a part of those pieces of media, and filed the defamation suit based on the way others reacted to them afterward.
The couple, Matthew Etnyre and his wife Irmgard Pagan, argued that they were the subjects of hatred and ridicule due to the coverage, which reportedly made it appear that they shunned their surrogate child based on that child’s appearance. Etnyre was the biological father of the child in question. While the couple maintained that was not true, they also stated that they do not have any more money to continue to pursue their defamation claim, and would be withdrawing it for that reason.
Back in June, a judge ruled that the couple had 28 days to pay $100,000 as security toward ABC’s legal fees, and the case would be stayed until that time. An attorney for the couple stated that they would not be able to pay that amount, and would therefore be withdrawing their case. They also asked that they not have to pay ABC’s legal fees, due to their lack of funds, but the judge ruled that they will still need to pay the fees, as per the usual rules.
The defense from ABC included a “substantial truth” claim, and information provided by the surrogate and the medical professionals who treated the child. The surrogate gave birth to twins, one of whom died and the other who was significantly physically and mentally impaired. The couple allegedly directed the hospital to stop medical treatments and allow that child to die. When notified that the child was alive, the couple chose to do nothing to acknowledge that child at all.
Surrogacy in the United States can be cost prohibitive, and intended parents may choose to pursue their surrogacy journeys in other countries. However, participating in third party reproduction arrangements across international lines comes with complex legal issues which are often difficult to navigate. If you would like to learn more about navigating international surrogacy arrangements, check out our new course now!