Page One

Surrogate mother sues Berkeley couple

The Associated Press
Tuesday August 14, 2001

SAN FRANCISCO — A California couple embroiled in a trans-Atlantic surrogate parent lawsuit has lined up another would-be family for twins that a British woman is carrying. 

Helen Beasley, now 25 weeks pregnant, sued Charles Wheeler and Martha Berman, alleging that the Berkeley couple backed out of a pregnancy deal and abandoned her after Beasley 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 surrogacy 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 all the trouble and expense of having the husband’s sperm and a donor egg implanted in a surrogate mother’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 baby. 

Beasley says they also had 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 at that point. 

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. 

“It was all priorly agreed to and they were not willing to separate the children,” Michelsen told The Associated Press on Sunday. “If the children were to be gestated together, they wanted to keep the children together.” 

Beasley met Wheeler and Berman a year ago over the Internet 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. 

Erickson told The Associated Press that the couple has paid Beasley $1,000 of the promised sum. 

“They have abandoned these babies because they have abandoned Helen,” Erickson said. “All Helen wants is a couple to love them and take care of them.”