In Vitro Customer Demands 'Termination' Of One Triplet

| by Nik Bonopartis
Melissa Cook.Melissa Cook.

A surrogate mother in California said the man who contracted her to have two babies is threatening her with legal action because she's pregnant with triplets.

Melissa Cook, 47, said she agreed to serve as a surrogate mother for a single Georgia man who wanted two children. She was implanted with the man's sperm and a 20-year-old woman's embryos, and agreed to a contract that would pay her $33,000 for carrying at least one child to term, the New York Post reported.

Doctors often implant additional embryos during in vitro fertilization attempts because of the odds that one or more of the embryos might not develop normally. But the fetuses defied the odds, the Post said, and Cook is now 17 weeks pregnant.

About 1.5 percent of all babies born in the U.S. were conceived with IVF. With mothers younger than 35, only 40 percent of embryos implanted using IVF procedures make it to full term, according to data from the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology. The success rate drops dramatically for older would-be mothers, and women at Cook's age have about a 2 percent chance of carrying a child to term per implantation "cycle," statistics show.

The Georgia man, whom Cook has never met, expressed concerns about Cook having triplets, then directed his attorney to threaten Cook with legal action and breach of contract if she refuses to "reduce" by having one of the triplets aborted, the Post reported.

A sternly worded letter from attorney Robert Warmsley demanded "selective reduction" on Nov. 24.

"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,” Warmsley threatened on behalf of his client.

Now Cook said she feels pressured to have the abortion even though she doesn't want to.

“They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right,” Cook told the Post.

The Woodland Hills, California, woman already has triplets of her own, and had previously given birth to a surrogate child.

“I have to reduce. I’m scared. I don’t want to suffer,” she told the Post.

Sources: New York PostSociety for Assisted Reproductive Technology / Photo source: New York Post