Melissa Cook, a 47-year-old surrogate mother carrying triplets, is refusing to abort one of the triplets after the biological father from Georgia said he only wants to keep two of them. She filed a lawsuit Monday stating that California’s law concerning surrogacy is “unconstitutional.”
“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.”
In November, the father of the babies threatened to withhold payment from Cook if she refused to abort one of the babies. He pointed out that their surrogacy contract, compiled in California, had allowed him to request a “reduction.” Cook was then 17 weeks pregnant with the children.
“They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right."
Surrogate mother Melissa Cook
“They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right,” she said in November, when the story first was publicized.
The babies were conceived using sperm from the unnamed Georgia father and eggs from a 20-year-old donor, LifeNews reported. Cook’s contract promised she’d be paid $33,000 for the pregnancy and $6,000 for each additional child.
Cook’s lawyers filed a long complaint with the Los Angeles state Superior Court. They claimed that California’s surrogacy law is unconstitutional because it ignores due-process and equal-protection rights in the U.S. Constitution, according to the Post.
Cook allegedly has four of her own children, including one set of triplets. Since her story was publicized, people have collected donations to help Cook and the babies, volunteered legal aid, and even adoption of the third child, according to the Post. The Center for Bioethics and Culture (CBC) is currently fighting for Cook’s custody of the third child.
“Melissa Cook may finally be the turning point in the third party reproduction age," Jennifer Lahl, a former pediatric nurse and President of the CBC said in a press release. "This is a landmark case. Women across America have been bullied, intimidated, exploited, and used by the commercial surrogacy industry that preys on the poor for profit. Now that industry has gone too far by trying to force women to abort healthy babies solely for financial benefit."
Lahl, a frequent fighter for female surrogates' rights, continued, "Through this case and others, Americans are quickly coming to understand why Canada and so many European, Asian, and African countries have banned paid surrogacy. It turns women into faceless breeders and children into made-to-order products. This must stop here.”