Surrogate Mom Who Refused to Abort Triplets Sues for Custody, Supreme Court Rejects Her Case

Bioethics   Micaiah Bilger   Oct 3, 2017   |   12:34PM    Washington, DC

Melissa Cook, the California surrogate mom who refused to abort her unborn triplets, will not get the chance to argue her case before the U.S. Supreme Court despite allegations of neglect by the biological father.

Cook sued the triplets’ biological father, Chester Moore Jr., after he demanded that she abort one of them and then refused to pay her when she did not. Cook sought custody of the triplets, who were born in February 2016, but she also challenged California’s liberal surrogacy laws.

“… the sole question Cook asked the Supreme Court to consider was a legal one: whether surrogate mothers and babies born to them have constitutional rights that trump state surrogacy laws,” lawyer Margot Cleveland wrote at The Federalist.

On Monday, however, the high court said it will not hear Cook’s case.

Michael Caspino, one of Cook’s lawyers, previously explained that Cook’s case is challenging the huge problems with California’s surrogacy laws.

“The only people with rights under the California statute are the people who write the checks to get the babies,” Caspino said. “Nobody else matters. That is wrong. That needs to be fixed.”

Harold Cassidy, who also represented Cook, said the California law treats children “as if they were products to be bought and sold.”

Many pro-lifers are concerned about surrogacy for exactly this reason. Surrogacy, like abortion, treats unborn babies as products to be obtained or destroyed at will rather than human beings who deserve to be protected and valued. Because of this, surrogates like Cook often face pressure to abort unborn babies.

Cook wants custody of the triplets who she carried in her womb.

Earlier this month, a document filed with the U.S. Supreme Court outlined allegations of neglect by Moore, People Magazine reports.

Moore’s sister Melinda Burnett said her brother is not taking good care of the 18-month-old triplets. The babies’ aunt said they are living in “deplorable” conditions in the basement of Moore’s elderly parents’ home.

According to the Orange County Register, Burnett said her brother does not change the babies’ diapers enough, and they had to be taken to the hospital to treat a very bad diaper rash.

She alleges that the grandfather is a heavy smoker, and a heroine-addicted nephew lived at the house with the triplets for a while and allegedly sold drugs there.

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“Perhaps most disturbing, is that my sister, Illeen, reports that he forces the children to eat some of their food off of the dirty floor in the house,” she alleged in the court document.

Burnett said she decided to share what she knows because she “felt a deep moral obligation to take action to protect the three children and give them a chance at life.”

Here’s more from The Hill:

There was no home visit or inquiry into C.M.’s [Moore’s] parental fitness before he entered into the contract, as would be required for an adoption.  CM’s sister later told the Court, “If C.M. applied to adopt a child and a home inspection was conducted, he would never have qualified to be an adoptive parent. If he was required to take psychiatric examinations, he could never have qualified.”

Burnett said child services has been contacted.

However, Moore’s attorney Robert Walmsley called the allegations slanderous and said the triplets are doing well.

Even though the Supreme Court refused to hear Cook’s case this week, her situation has increased public awareness about the problems with surrogacy. It also helped several other surrogate mothers who were facing pressure to abort their unborn babies.

One anonymous Southern California surrogate also came forward with her story after reading about Cook’s case in the news, LifeNews reported in 2015. She said one of the parents of the unborn triplets she was carrying pressured her to abort at least one of them.

After reading about Cook’s situation, a friend of the anonymous woman contacted the Center for Bioethics and Culture, a watchdog group for surrogacy exploitation, and asked for legal help to save the unborn triplets.

“This woman was asked to submit to an abortion. She’s asking for legal help,” said Jennifer Lahl, director of the center. “That’s why Melissa Cook’s story was so empowering. When one woman tells her story, it encourages other women to come forward. There’s strength in numbers.”

In 2016, LifeNews reported another surrogate mother faced pressure to abort an unborn baby who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. The Colorado surrogate refused, despite the threat of a lawsuit. She is now raising the girl herself.