Surrogate Carrying Triplets Sues to Avoid Forced Abortion

Lauretta Brown | January 5, 2016 | 4:00pm EST
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(AP Photo)

Surrogate mom Melissa Cook, who is facing pressure from the birth father to abort one of the unborn triplets she is carrying, filed a lawsuit Monday challenging California’s surrogacy law as unconstitutional.

The babies’ father, a man from Georgia, hired Cook for $33,000 to have a child by in-vitro fertilization using his sperm and the eggs of a 20-year-old donor.

The 47-year-old California native was implanted with three embryos, which all developed normally against the odds. Cook said the birth father immediately began to complain when he learned all three embryos had survived.

As previously reported, the father began threatening Cook with financial penalties in November if she did not undergo an abortion for one of the triplets.

The New York Post reports that Cook’s lawyers filed a 47-page complaint in Los Angeles state Superior Court Monday arguing that the surrogacy contract with the biological father, and the California surrogate law it relies on, “violate due-process and equal-protection rights under the US Constitution.”

“I no longer view surrogacy arrangements in the same favorable light I once did. Children derive a special benefit from their relationship with their mother,” Cook said in a statement to The New York Post.

“I now think that the basic concept of surrogacy arrangements must be re-examined, scrutinized and reconsidered,” she added.

Cook has retained lawyer Harold Cassidy, who represented the surrogate mom in the famous 1986 Baby M custody case.

“The surrogacy contract in this case and the California Surrogacy Enabling Statute will not withstand constitutional scrutiny,” Cassidy told The Post.

“The notion that a man can demand that a mother terminate the life of one of the children she carries by an abortion, and then claim that she is liable for money damages when she refuses, is cruel to the mother,” Cassidy added.

Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, a group that opposes surrogacy, commented to when Cook first went public with her story that this case was indicative of larger problems with surrogacy, saying that “it’s treating women as hired paid workers - breeders.”

“We make demands about what kind of children we’ll have, what kind of children we want, how many children we want, how many children we don’t want,” Lahl said asking, “Do you really want to turn pregnancy into a commercial contract?”

Lahl’s organization set up a donation page to raise funds so Cook can afford to deliver all three triplets despite potential financial penalties.

After Cook went public with her story in November, a second surrogate mother - Brittneyrose Torres, who is also pregnant with triplets and facing pressure from the intended parents to abort one of the unborn babies - told her story to the Post in December.

The growing demand for surrogates in the U.S. and abroad has led to many stories of ethical dilemmas, including an incident in Thailand in which an Australian couple allegedly abandoned their surrogate son after learning he had Down Syndrome. The couple left the country with the child’s healthy twin sister.

Thailand has since banned surrogacy for foreign couples and same-sex couples.

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