It’s hard to advocate for commercial surrogacy in Australia when we are exposed to so many stories about how it can go horribly wrong.
Recently, we heard about a U.S. man who has demanded that his commercial surrogate abort one of three babies she is expecting, threatening her with financial and legal ramifications if she doesn’t comply.
California-based surrogate Melissa Cook is 17 weeks pregnant with three babies on behalf of a man who paid her approximately $45,000 AUD. Three viable embryos were created using his sperm and a donor egg from a twenty-year-old.
When all were successfully implanted, the man then demanded the abortion.
Cook, 47, initially refused his request, saying she’d bonded with the babies and didn’t understand why he would ask her to go through a reduction procedure.
She wrote him a heartfelt letter, saying, “The doctor put in three healthy embryos. The chances were high they were all going to take. You knew I was 47 years old. If you knew you only wanted two babies, then why put in three embryos?”
It was after discovering she was expecting triplets at around eight or nine weeks that the father began pressuring her to “reduce” them, a term used to abort selected fetuses during multiple pregnancies to allow the remaining ones a better chance to thrive.
The father “almost immediately” began pressuring her to abort one of the fetuses and his lawyer contacted her just a few days ago, warning that she must abide by the terms of the agreement or will face, “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.”
With four children of her own, three of whom are triplets, Cook has successfully acted as a surrogate before. This time, it has become a nightmare for her and she told the New York Post that she will probably end up complying with the father’s request to reduce due to the legal and financial ramifications she is facing.
Commercial surrogacy is legal in 22 states in the U.S. This particular drama is unfolding in California however is a hot topic in New York where a commercial surrogacy ban has been in place since 1993, however a push is underway to legalise the practice.
This isn’t the only story of surrogacy gone wrong that is fueling debate against it in places like New York and in Australia where domestic commercial surrogacy is still illegal in all states and territories.
Although altruistic surrogacy (whereby no payment is made) is legal. Access to overseas commercial surrogacy is allowed everywhere except NSW, QLD and the ACT, but is incredibly rare.
However, even the illegality of commercial surrogacy in those states and territories can be questioned. There is some argument that the relevant state leg that criminalises os commer surrog in NSW QLD AC is invallid under section 109 of the Australian Constitution.
Former The View co-host Sherri Shepherd has been ordered to pay approximately $5,600 AUD in child support to her ex-husband Lamar Sally after a fight over financial responsibility for a baby born via a surrogate. 10-month-old Lamar Jr. is in the care of Sally who fought to have Shepherd listed as the legal mother on the birth certificate and then pursued child support.