People Mag Covers Surrogate-Mom Nightmares, Including Abortions and Custody Battles

The March 14 edition of People magazine carries a surprising article – at least if you’re used to People promoting issues like assisted suicide. The headline was “Surrogacy Nightmare: Whose Babies Are They?”

The subheadline, next to a photo of a very pregnant blonde in a wicker chair, was “Melissa Cook agreed to be a surrogate mom. But then the biological father asked the she abort one of the triplets she was carrying. Now she’s fighting for custody of all three and her legal right to be their mother. Plus: other cases of surrogacy gone wrong.”

For example, they had sidebar articles on “The parents opted out when the baby had special needs,” “the surrogate kept the baby – and they have to pay her child support,” and “the parents divorced and couldn’t afford to keep the babies.”

In the last one, surrogate Susan Ring was also pregnant with triplets in 2002, and the “parents” demanded “that I reduce to two.”  Ring felt forced to comply with their wishes, and then”the agency told me that the couple was out of money...They were getting divorced and didn’t want the twins.” She said “I didn’t get into this to have more babies. I did this to help someone else.” After a fight with the “parents,” she was able to find a loving home for the two babies.

People reporter Johnny Dodd explained Melissa Cook’s battle with a 50-year-old postal worker from Georgia, whom she has never met, or even spoken to:

After Cook found out she was carrying triplets in August, the biological father, identified in court papers only as C.M., asked her to abort – first all three of the fetuses, according to Cook, then one – citing financial concerns. Convinced that C.M., who lives with his elderly parents, is unable to care for the babies, Cook and her attorney then sued to claim custody of the infants.

But a court refused, saying that under California’s surrogate law, parental rights are given to the intended parents (or parent) in a surrogacy agreement. Now Cook is suing to have the surrogate law declared unconstitutional, while the biological father says he intends to keep all three children.

Meanwhile, the babies, who were born seven weeks premature, are expected to remain in the hospital for the next several weeks as the case continues working its way through the courts. “This,” says a weary-looking Cook, “is the dark side of surrogacy.”  

It’s also an anomaly, say those who study reproductive medicine issues...

But at least People is focusing its readers on what can go wrong once child-bearing is turned into a commercial enterprise.  Still, it’s heart-warming to see surrogate mothers who act like mothers, and not just warehouses for “fetuses” who can be “reduced” on a whim.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis