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Two US surrogates carrying triplets refuse abortion demands

21 December 2015
Appeared in BioNews 833

Two surrogates in the USA carrying triplets are coming under pressure from the intended parents to abort one of their fetuses.

The first case, reported a month ago, involves Melissa Cook, a 47-year-old from California. Cook was paid $33,000 by an unnamed man from Georgia to act as a surrogate. She underwent IVF treatment and was implanted with three embryos created from donated eggs and the intended father's sperm.

A scan at nine weeks showed that all three embryos had gone on to develop normally. Cook, who has never met the father, told the New York Post that she was sent a letter by his lawyer Robert Warmsley, asking her to undergo 'selective reduction' (abortion of one of the fetuses). He stated that failure to adhere to the agreement could lead 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'.

In the second case, Brittneyrose Torres, also from California, was implanted with two fertilised eggs via IVF. One of the embryos split and went on to develop into identical twin boys. The third triplet is a girl. The parents have asked Torres to undergo a selective reduction, selecting the female fetus for termination. Torres' request to adopt the female fetus her request was refused by the parents.

Torres then contacted the Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, a non-profit organisation that campaigns against surrogacy, which has secured free legal representation for the 26-year-old.

In both cases the surrogate mother and intended parents entered into a contract allowing for the termination of pregnancy for medical reasons. While commercial surrogacy contracts are legally recognised in California, a surrogate could not be physically forced to undergo the procedure by a court. Arthur Caplan, Director of Medical Ethics at New York University's Langone Medical Center, told CBS News that the right to bodily autonomy is paramount. If the surrogate refuses to comply, however, the parents can refuse to pay her agreed fees and may also leave her with high medical costs, he said.

30 August 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A same-sex male couple in South Africa has become the first set of parents in the country to have triplets who share both the fathers' DNA...
31 May 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A woman in the USA who acted as a surrogate for a single man, and gave birth to triplets, has taken her claim for custody of at least one of the children to an appeals court...
11 January 2016 - by Dr Mary Yarwood 
A US woman acting as a surrogate has filed a lawsuit to prevent a claim in damages being brought by the commissioning father after he requested she undergo a selective reduction...
7 December 2015 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
The results of the Surrogacy UK survey are in. Following an unprecedented response, the overwhelming message is that surrogacy law in the UK needs to be reformed...
30 November 2015 - by Jessica Richardson 
A Channel 4 documentary about the surrogacy business in Mexico exposes some alarming practices...
30 November 2015 - by Cait McDonagh 
An appeals court in Pennsylvania, USA, has ruled that a woman is to remain the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy, despite separating from her husband before the child was born...
23 November 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A report calling for reform of surrogacy laws in the UK has revealed that the majority of arrangements are conducted on an altruistic basis and do not take place abroad, contrasting with what it claims are commonly held misconceptions...
14 September 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The UK's High Court has ruled that single parents cannot apply for a parental order to become the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy...
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