A complicated case has become even more so after a surrogate mom of triplets refused the biological dad's demand to abort one of the fetuses. Melissa Cook says she was threatened with financial ruin by the father for violating her contract (he was allowed a "reduction" if he wanted one), and she's now filed a lawsuit in California claiming the state's surrogacy law and her contract are unconstitutional, the New York Post reports. The 47-year-old mom of four is also fighting for custody of the child she won't abort. "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," Cook's lawyer tells the Post, adding it's also "cruel to the child" (the dad, IDed only as Georgia man "CM" in court papers, had indicated he'd "surrender the child to a stranger in an adoption," per People).
Cook was paid $33,000 to have one child—plus an extra $6,000 for each additional child—via IV fertilization with CM's sperm and eggs from a 20-year-old donor, the Post notes; all three implanted embryos went on to develop normally. Per the father's lawyer, Robert Walmsley, CM did ask Cook to abort a fetus, but only after doctors recommended it for health reasons, the Post notes. He didn't go after Cook for monetary damages and he's still making medical payments to her, Walmsley says, adding that Cook has become a pawn for anti-surrogacy activists. As for Cook, her statement to People says: "I have a deep empathy for men who want children. However, I now think that the basic concept of surrogacy arrangements must be re-examined, scrutinized, and reconsidered." She tells the Daily Beast that "I will be prepared to take all three [kids]. ... You can't just have such disregard for human life." Walmsley tells the Post the dad will seek parental rights for all three children. (This has happened before.)