But that changed after the Baby M case in 1986, in which the surrogate, Mary Beth Whitehead
, refused to give the baby to the biological father and his wife.
The courts of New Jersey found that Mary Beth Whitehead
was the child's legal mother and declared contracts for surrogate motherhood illegal and invalid.
The Baby M case, in which surrogate mother Mary Beth Whitehead
tried to renege on her contract and keep the baby she was carrying for a New Jersey couple, was a tabloid sensation in the mid 1980s.
Mary Beth Whitehead
, 40, was forced to give up her daughter in the Baby M tug-of-love case that gripped America a decade ago.
The practice became news with Baby M, when the New Jersey Supreme Court held surrogacy contracts to be void as against public policy, refused to enforce the contract under which William and Elizabeth Stern claimed the right to be the parents of the girl borne by Mary Beth Whitehead
after artificial insemination by Mr.
Thus, Mary Beth Whitehead won back her parental rights because the New Jersey Supreme Court acknowledged her genetic contribution: Baby M was half hers.
How can we respect this emotional and psychological process-indeed, rely on it - and at the same time forbid it to the Mary Beth Whiteheads and the Anna Johnsons?
The same problem arose in the Baby M case.Was it fair that the Sterns could summon witnesses to analyze Melissa's patty-cake technique, while Mary Beth Whitehead
could not respond with a salvo of her own, save for the few witnesses who helped her gratis.
Who was it who, asked to testify as an expert witness at the trial to determine whether Mary Beth Whitehead
or the Stern family would be granted custody of Baby M, said that "a courtroom is simply no place for an ethicist?" Don't know?
Everything a woman does to produce her own child Mary Beth Whitehead
did, including giving it half the genetic inheritance regarded by the judge as so decisive an argument on behalf of William Stern.
Our comfort with patriarchal ideologies is displayed in the term "surrogate mother." In what way was Mary Beth Whitehead
a surrogate mother?
The father, William Stern, had contracted with the mother, Mary Beth Whitehead
, to bear him a child through artificial insemination.