(CNSNews.com) – Surrogate mom Melissa Cook is facing pressure from the birth father to abort one of the unborn triplets she is carrying for him as part of their surrogacy contract. Cook spoke out Tuesday about the ethical dilemma she is facing.
“They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right,” she told the New York Post.
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. She is now 17 weeks pregnant.
Cook shared with the Post a letter she sent to the father arguing, “The doctor put in three healthy embryos . . . The chances were high they were all going to take. You knew I was 47 years old. If you knew you only wanted two babies, then why put in three embryos?”
The father has begun threatening Cook with financial penalties if she does not undergo an abortion for one of the triplets.
The father’s lawyer, Robert Warmsley, told Cook in a letter Friday that the dad “understands, albeit does not agree, with your decision not to reduce.”
“As you know, his remedies where you refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement, are immense [and] include, but are not limited to, loss of all benefits under the agreement, damages in relation to future care of the children [and] medical costs associated with any extraordinary care the children may need,” the lawyer warned.
“Cook received an additional letter Tuesday “urging her to schedule a ‘selection reduction’ — abortion of one of the fetuses — by day’s end,” the Post reported.
Cook told the Post that given the pressure she’s facing, she’s wavering on her decision to keep all three babies.
“I have to reduce. I’m scared. I don’t want to suffer,” she said.
Jennifer Lahl, head of the Center for Bioethics and Culture, a group that opposes surrogacy, told CNSNews.com that Cook reached out to her for advice, because she saw “no good reason to terminate a healthy pregnancy.”
“By all medical exams to date, the babies that Melissa is carrying are all healthy. It’s just a matter of we don’t want three. We want two, which for me is rather disgusting to see that’s how we treat children,” Lahl said.
Lahl said that this case was indicative of larger problems with surrogacy, commenting 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 has now set up a donation page to raise funds so Cook can afford to deliver all three triplets despite the financial penalties she is facing.
The growing demand for surrogates in the U.S. and abroad has led to ethical dilemmas similar to Cook’s, 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.