Surrogate mother carrying triplets asked to abort one fetus, launches lawsuit

A file photo of a pregnant woman.
A file photo of a pregnant woman. Getty Images/File

A California surrogate mother, Melissa Cook, is embroiled in a lawsuit regarding the triplets she is carrying.

Cook was hired by a Georgia man and paid $33,000 to get pregnant by in-vitro fertilization, using donor eggs and the father’s sperm. Weeks into her pregnancy, Cook discovered she was carrying three viable embryos. During her pregnancy, the father has demanded she abort one fetus. Cook has refused.

Cook has now filed a lawsuit in California challenging the state’s surrogacy law.

READ MORE: British mom acts as surrogate for her son

In the 47-page complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court,  47-year-old Cook is asking to have the state’s surrogacy law declared unconstitutional. In documents, the father is identified as C.M.

“I have a deep empathy for men who want children,” Cook says in a statement released to People Magazine. “However, I now think that the basic concept of surrogacy arrangements must be re-examined, scrutinized and reconsidered.”

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According to People, Cook told the father she would seek custody of one of the children. C.M. replied that he intended to “surrender the child to a stranger in an adoption,” according to the documents.

Cook said she was told by the father’s lawyer that her refusal to abort a fetus would make her liable for damages.

The father’s lawyer, Robert Walmsley told the New York Post, the biological father did initially request Cook to abort one of the triplets — but only for health reasons based on the recommendation of doctors. Adding the father plans to claim parental rights to all three kids, according to his attorney.

Cook, a mother of four, is now 23 weeks pregnant.

Cook has retained lawyer Harold Cassidy, reports the New York Post.  Cassidy represented the surrogate mother in the famous 1986 Baby M custody case, the first time the U.S. courts ruled on surrogacy. In that case the surrogate mother refused to give up the child after birth. The courts ruled in favour of the parents who hired the surrogate.

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

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