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Baby M

Surrogate Motherhood Case

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In this New Jersey Supreme Court decision defining custody rights in the case of surrogate motherhood, the natural father, William Stern, was awarded custody of Baby M. William's wife, Elizabeth Stern, was not infertile, but feared that her multiple sclerosis made pregnancy too risky.

The surrogate mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, who conceived the child via artificial insemination, was granted visitation rights. The court also established limits on surrogacy contracts.

In 1989, Whitehead published A Mother's Story: The Truth About the Baby M Case, a book about the case from her perspective.

When "Baby M" (Melissa Stern) reached age 18, she went to court to terminate Mary Beth Whitehead's maternal rights and to formalize Elizabeth Stern's parenthood through adoption.

More About the Baby M Decision:

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  4. Daily Life for Women: Family, Marriage, Education, Home
  5. Motherhood
  6. Baby M - Surrogate Motherhood Decision

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