Father Demands Surrogate Mother Abort Third Fetus, Says Lawsuit
A surrogate mother is now suing the father, saying he demanded she abort one of the triplets she's carrying because he only wanted to care for two babies. Melissa Cook, 47, of Woodland Hills is a mother of four of her own children, according to the Daily Beast. She filed a suit yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court saying that a 49-year-old postal employee from Georgia who resides with his parents—identified as "C.M." in the suit—paid her $33,000 to carry a child for him, using his sperm and eggs donated by a 20-year-old woman, PEOPLE reports. She had three embryos implanted via in-vitro fertilization, and discovered nine weeks into the pregnancy that all three of them had taken.
The suit claims, however, that for financial reasons, C.M. only wanted two of the babies and told her to abort one. Though C.M.'s attorney, Robert Walmsley, told The Daily Beast that Cook and C.M.'s contract contained a clause stating the father could ask for an abortion in the event of multiple pregnancies, which is common with in-vitro fertilization, Cook refused once she had to face the situation. Cook is now 23 weeks along.
"I bonded with these kids," she told the New York Post. "This is just not right."
Cook also claims that C.M. told her that she would be liable for monetary damages if she didn't abort the third fetus. When Cook decided that she would keep the unwanted child for herself, the suit claims that C.M. told her that he would instead give the baby "to a stranger in an adoption."
Cook's attorney, Harold Cassidy, says that the current surrogate law in California is in violation of the Constitution, specifically violating due-process and equal-protection rights.
"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. The idea that when a mother offers to raise the child that the man wanted her to kill, but the man insists that the child be raised by a stranger instead of the mother who loved him and saved his life, is cruel to the child," Cassidy said.
Walmsley, who own the specialized law firm Surrogacy International, denies that C.M. tried to bully Cook into an abortion. He said that Cook had last contacted his client about receiving her payment—which increases by $6,000 for each baby. He said that the money associated with caring for an extra child was only a minor factor for his client, and that the biggest concern was the safety of the mother and children. He says his client has no intention to separate the siblings now, and will keep all three children.
Walmsley, who own the specialized law firm Surrogacy International, told the Daily Beast that, "As much as [Cook] thinks she has some right via intrautero bonding, I think these kids have a far greater right to be raised together at siblings with their genetic, biological parent."
Walmsey also claims that Cassidy has an agenda to "stop surrogacy" in general. Cassidy previously defended Mary Beth Whitehead, a woman who in 1984 agreed to carry a child for William and Elizabeth Stern. Elizabeth had health issues that made her fear carrying a child on her own, so the couple put an ad in the Asbury Park Press, to which Whitehead replied. Whitehead was inseminated with William Stern's sperm and gave birth to a little girl in March of 1986. Whitehead decided she wanted to keep the girl, and the Sterns sued her. Ultimately, William Stern won custody, and Whitehead received visitation rights. The trial, which is considered precedent in New Jersey, was known as the 'Baby M' case, as William Stern chose to name the baby girl Melissa. Melissa Stern considers the Sterns her family and terminated Whitehead's parental rights in 2004.