LAWYER for California couple in surrogate battle says another couple will take twins

Tuesday, August 14th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Another couple will take over the surrogacy contract that sparked a lawsuit by a British woman carrying twins originally intended for a California couple.

Helen Beasley, now 25 weeks pregnant, says Charles Wheeler and Martha Berman abandoned the deal after learning she was carrying twins.

Attorney Diane Michelsen, who represents the Berkeley couple, said there was ``never any possibility'' that the babies would be abandoned and denied that anyone ordered Beasley, 26, to abort one of the fetuses.

``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,'' Michelsen said.

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.

Michelsen wouldn't say why her clients don't want to have 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.

Beasley claims they 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 twin fetuses 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.

Beasley 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 said Monday on CNN.

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.

Beasley's attorney, Theresa Erickson, said the couple has paid Beasley $1,000 of the promised sum.

Beasley, who declined to name the British community where she is from, is living in San Diego until she gives birth.