The Lid has been following the story of Melissa Cook since December. Cook was contracted as a surrogate mother, but when the father who contracted with her discovered she was carrying triplets, he demanded she abort all three babies. He later changed his mind, insisting she abort only one of the three babies.
But this week, Cook delivered three healthy baby boys and now fights for custody of the three children she has never seen.
In mid-December, when Cook refused to have the abortion and offered to keep one of the children as her own, she received a threatening a letter from the father’s lawyer. The letter warned if she did not abort one of the children, she would not only forfeit the money owed to her in the contract, but would be responsible for “damages in relation to future care of the children [and] medical costs associated with any extraordinary care the children may need.”
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Then, in early January, Cook’s attorney Harold Cassidy filed a suit in the California State Superior Court claiming that “the contract with the biological father and the California surrogate law it relies on violate due-process and equal-protection rights under the US Constitution.”
Via the New York Post:
Cook’s lawsuit claims she is the legal mother of the triplets and seeks custody of at least one who was targeted for abortion. A custody hearing would determine the fate of the other two.
(…)“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 to the mother,” Cassidy said.
He said it’s also “cruel to the child” to allow it to be raised by a stranger when Cook wants the baby.
The father, identified in the court papers as “C.M.,” is a deaf 50-year-old postal worker from Georgia.
The babies were delivered several weeks premature on Feb. 22. Cassidy told Fox News that the hospital is seeing to their care:
Cassidy told Fox News that the minute the babies were born, they were immediately taken from Cook because a state court judge had granted the father parental rights, a ruling Cassidy is appealing. California law does not recognize Cook as the legal mother because she is not genetically linked to the newborns.
“The hospital personnel refused to let Melissa see the children, allow her to know what their condition is, refused to tell her their exact weights, and she is not being permitted to see the children at all,” Cassidy said. “We have a mother who loves them, who fought for them, who defended their life, who stands ready to take care of them. You can’t tell a mother who gives birth to children that what happens to the children is none of her business.”
But according to California law, because Cook has no genetic attachment to the children, she has no parental rights. So the judge granted the father custody of the three babies.
Court documents reveal correspondence involving Cook and C.M., including a Sept. 18, 2015 message the father wrote to his attorney to say visits to a fertility clinic by Cook, whose pregnancy was deemed high-risk due to her age, were “draining my finances.”
“I do not want to abort twin babies, but I felt that is such possible (sic) to seek aborting all three babies,” he wrote. “I do not want to affect Melissa’s health. I do not have any more money in the bank, and my job does not pay great bi-weekly.”
Cook is appealing the judge’s decision, asking the court to declare her the legal mother of the three children. She is willing to take care of one or all three of the babies, should the father decide he can’t.
“I want what’s best for them,” Cook said outside court on Feb. 8 [before the babies were born]. “These court proceedings are for them, to determine what is going to be in their best interest.”
Below is the Fox News report on the case: