You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and bonus content- exclusively for subscribers. Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks


Welcome to

This subscriber-only site gives you exclusive access to breaking news, in-depth coverage, exclusive interactives and bonus content.

You can read free articles of your choice a month that are only available on

breaking news

Tornado warning for Cherokee, Pickens, Meriwether counties

California surrogate: Atlanta dad demands I abort a triplet

A Metro Atlanta man’s effort to pay a California surrogate to give birth to his children is drawing national attention after the 47-year-old woman claimed he demanded she abort one of the triplets she is carrying.

The case, published Wednesday by the New York Post, raises questions about the growing commercial surrogate business, where aspiring parents can hire a woman to give birth through a fertilized implant. Total costs for surrogate service can range from $70,000 to $100,000, including legal, medical and surrogate agency expenses.

In the case of the Georgia man — whose identity has not been released — he reportedly agreed to pay Melissa Cook of Woodland Hills, Calif., $33,000 for one child, plus $6,000 for each additional child, according to the Post. Cook had three healthy embryos implanted. Two months into the pregnancy, Cook learned she was carrying triplets and the man panicked, the Post reported.

Cook told the Post he demanded she abort one, citing provisions in the surrogate contract that gave him the right to withhold payment if she didn’t comply.

She also reported receiving two threatening letters from the man’s attorney in the past week urging her to go through with an abortion or face the consequences. Cook is approximately 17 weeks pregnant and said she doesn’t want to abort.

“They are human beings,” she told The Post. “I bonded with these kids. This is just not right.”

As the man’s demands intensified, Cook turned to a non-profit group in California that is critical of surrogate births. It helped get her story out and set up a web page this week to collect donations on behalf of her and other surrogates.

“She was impregnated with three embryos,” said Jennifer Lahl, president of the Center for Bioethics and Culture. “Lo and behold all three embryos are now viable and growing. Everything is healthy and thriving. She doesn’t see the need to terminate a healthy baby. She doesn’t want to abide by the contract. She’s changed her mind.”

Lahl’s group sees surrogacy as the buying and selling of babies and says it exploits women.

Cook reportedly was impregnated with embryos from a 20-year-old’s eggs and the Georgia man’s sperm. Cook did not respond to a request for an interview made through Lahl’s group.

“She’s worried,” Lahl said. “She’s concerned. All the emotions that people would be having when you’re being faced with this dilemma….I think she needs to have the full protection of the law to allow her to carry these babies to term.”

The Georgia man’s attorney, identified as Robert Warmsley, could not be reached for comment.

Several surrogate pregnancy experts in Georgia were concerned about the broad outlines of the Cook case as it’s been presented in news reports. Unlike California, Georgia does not have laws that specifically address surrogate pregnancy, but they say they can’t see a case like Cook’s happening here.

Ruth Claiborne, whose law firm Claiborne Fox Bradley specializes in adoptions and surrogate pregnancies, said she works to identify and avoid potential pitfalls. The firm requires extensive screening of all parties, psychological evaluations and detailed discussions ahead of time to avoid possible conflicts.

No contract should be written that tries to force a woman who is a surrogate to get an abortion or do something with her body against her will, Claiborne said. She said Cook’s case seems to be one fraught with breakdowns in the process.

“I would not write a contract that way,” she said. “I don’t think you can require somebody to contract away a constitutional right.”

Dr. Andrew Toledo, CEO of Reproductive Biology Associates of Atlanta, which specializes in surrogate pregnancies and in vitro fertilization, said implanting someone Cook’s age with three fertilized embryos is a questionable medical call. He said a woman in her late 40s with a single baby pregnancy is high risk, let alone multiple babies.

“That’s nuts,” he said. “That’s not good normal practice of medicine….In Georgia and Atlanta that’s not the way medicine is practiced. These things would not have happened.”

Toledo said an abortion at this stage in her pregnancy has health risks that make it unlikely.

“Not going to happen,” Toledo said. “This Atlanta guy is going to have to face the music and realize that what will happen now will be (decided) after the babies are born and left to the courts.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Local

Hall of Famer’s $10K football stolen from school building
Hall of Famer’s $10K football stolen from school building

A football valued at $10,000 that belonged to Griffin native and Pro Football Hall of Famer Rayfield Wright was stolen from a school facility where it was housed, police said. A Griffin-Spalding County School System employee first noticed framed photos and a yearbook were missing on May 31, according to an incident report. However, police did not...
Gwinnett police looking for suspect in doctor’s office burglary
Gwinnett police looking for suspect in doctor’s office burglary

Gwinnett County police are looking for a man they believe stole yard tools from a shed at the Care Plus doctor’s office in Snellville. The suspect, seen on surveillance video, is seen entering two locked sheds and taking the equipment, police said. The video also shows the suspect taking a toolbox from a truck. The suspect is described as between...
Man sentenced to life for murder at 4th of July barbecue in Atlanta
Man sentenced to life for murder at 4th of July barbecue in Atlanta

A man has been sentenced to life plus five years in prison for shooting another man to death at a southwest Atlanta 4th of July barbecue in 2015.  Juarez Monegain, 35, pled guilty to the murder and related charges, the Fulton County District Attorney’s office announced this week. The 25-year-old victim, Edwin Ross, was at...
Sheriff reduces jail time for Georgia inmates who saved officer 
Sheriff reduces jail time for Georgia inmates who saved officer 

Polk County Sheriff Johnny Moats isn’t naming names, but the six inmates who rescued an officer during a work detail last Friday will serve reduced sentences. Many of the six men who rushed to help the officer who’d passed out in the afternoon heat haven’t even been sentenced yet, Moats told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution....
North Georgia prepares for rainy weekend as Cindy inches closer
North Georgia prepares for rainy weekend as Cindy inches closer

Residents and officials in North Georgia are bracing for a heavy onslaught of rain over the next few days and through the weekend – the swan song of Tropical Depression Cindy. The storm system, which originated in the Gulf of Mexico, made landfall early Thursday and is affecting coastal communities in Louisiana and Texas. Cindy is expected to...
More Stories