Archive for Tuesday, August 14, 2001

Couple in surrogate battle deny ordering abortion

August 14, 2001


— A lawyer for a California couple embroiled in a lawsuit with a British surrogate mother says another family has been lined up to take the twins when they are born.

Helen Beasley, now 25 weeks pregnant, has sued Charles Wheeler and Martha Berman of Berkely, saying they backed out of the pregnancy deal when she refused to abort one of the twins.

On Sunday, the couple's lawyer, Diane Michelsen, said another set of American parents has been found to take over the pregnancy contract.

"There has been and continues to be a fully qualified couple who is ready, willing and able to immediately accept the custody of the children," she said.

Michelsen wouldn't say why her clients don't want the babies now, after going to the trouble and expense of having the husband's sperm and a donor egg implanted in Beasley's womb.

"Family building is a very private matter," she said.

Michelsen also denied that anyone ordered Beasley, 26, to abort one of the twins. She said it was more of a "request," as outlined in the contract, which called for a "selective reduction" if Beasley became pregnant with more than one fetus.

Beasley said there was a verbal agreement that the abortion decision would be made before the 12th week of pregnancy. Beasley said she informed the couple that she was carrying twins about eight weeks into her pregnancy, and that it wasn't until the end of the 13th week that they told her to abort one of the fetuses.

Beasley refused, saying it would be too risky.

She also said she has no legal rights to the twins and will not be able to take care of them, but does not want Wheeler and Berman to have them.

"I believe that these parents have made it expressly clear that they have not wanted these children," Beasley told CNN Monday.

Michelsen, who wouldn't identify the adoptive couple, said there was never any possibility that the twins would be abandoned. She said Beasley's attorney, Theresa Erickson, knew this but still chose to file a lawsuit.

Erickson told CNN it was only after Beasley made the issue public that Michelsen said the couple had lined up substitute parents.

Beasley met Wheeler and Berman a year ago on a Web site for surrogate parents. The couple agreed to pay her $19,000 to bear their child, according to court documents, and she underwent in-vitro fertilization in California in March.

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