To the biological parents of some children being carried by surrogate mothers, three’s a crowd.
Melissa Cook, 47, and Brittneyrose Torres, 26, have much in common, both live in California, both signed surrogacy contracts and are carrying three children resulting from in vitro fertilization. Each of the surrogate moms signed contracts which included a “selective reduction” clause, meaning if the implantation resulted in a multiple pregnancy, biological parent or parents could request that one or more of the babies be aborted. Both Ms. Cook (on the right in the picture above) and Ms. Torres (on the left) are resisting pressure to abort one of their three healthy babies.
Brittneyrose Torres a surrogate mother, is 17 weeks pregnant with triplets and fighting a demand from the childrens’ biological parents that she abort one of the babies.
Ms. Torres, who lives in Thousand Oaks, Calif., was implanted with two fertilized egg in the hopes that one would develop. Not only did both develop, but one also split in two, creating twins (not uncommon with in vitro fertilization). The twins are boys and the third child is a little girl.
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Per the contract between Torres and the biological parents, she was to receive $30,000 – the first $25,000 for carrying one baby and the additional $5,000 for carrying two or more children.
In an interview with the New York Post, Brittneyrose Torres said that, at first, the biological parents seemed excited about having three babies. But, around week 12 of the pregnancy, they demanded that she abort the female baby because they were worried about an increased risk of developmental disabilities.
“I emailed my doctors. There were no abnormalities,” Torres said, going on to describe a difficult talk with the biological mother.
“I told her I couldn’t abort one of the children,” she said. “I could not emotionally and physically do that at nearly 13 weeks. I believe it will be killing this baby.”
The surrogate says she offered to adopt the female fetus instead of aborting her, but the couple refused.
Torres decided to go public to warn other would-be surrogates to avoid the heard-wrenching pitfalls she has encountered.
“I want other women not to be put in this situation,” Torres said . “They shouldn’t be forced to do something they don’t want to.”
She also said that the biological parents were well aware from the start that she wouldn’t want to abort a child unless unless it was a life-and-death situation. But, since she and the kids are healthy, she says there is no reason to end a life.
Ms. Torres decided to contact The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, a surrogacy watchdog, in an effort to fight the abortion demand after reading about a similar case.
In that case, surrogate mother Melissa Cook was implanted with three fertilized eggs and, when they all survived, the biological father (the mother was an egg donor) began to demand that she abort one of the three. Cook’s contract with the biological father from Georgia says she would be paid $33,000 for the pregnancy, plus $6,000 for each additional child.
The father’s lawyer sent Ms. Cook a letter which, among other things, said:
‘His remedies where you refuse to abide by the terms of the agreement [abort on the the children]… 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’.
Both surrogate mothers live in California. Under California law, babies cannot be aborted once the baby is considered to be viable outside the womb with medical intervention (sometime between 20-24 weeks). As she was in her 17th week when the story was reported around Thanksgiving, Ms. Cook would be unable to abort a child by now providing she has stood her ground. According to latest reports reports (three weeks ago), pressure from the biological father was weakening her resolve.
‘They are human beings. I bonded with these kids. This is just not right,’ she told The Post this week. But she added that the alleged threats are impacting on her initial decision to keep all of the triplets. ‘I have to reduce. I’m scared. I don’t want to suffer,’ she said sadly.
Granted, I cannot understand how any parent would want to abort a healthy baby. But it seems even more unreasonable for a parent who is so desperate to have a child that they pay anywhere from $30,000-$40,000 for a stranger to carry the child for them to then, when their prayers are answered in triplicate, decide that one of those healthy babies they wanted so badly has to die.