Baby M case is an important description in defining surrogacy contract and identifying the terms and a condition under which the contract is forceable.It is a painful case of how parents can be attached to their babies and how technology can impact parental rights. The case is a strong reference to parents who want to enter in surrogacy rights in making sound and firm decisions. This case was filed by William Stern and his wife, Elizabeth in the New Jersey State Court where they sued Mary Beth Whitehead for defiling surrogacy contract and wanted the court to enforce the contract. Mary Beth had agreed to be artificially inseminated with Sterns sperm but was reluctant in relinquishing the rights of the baby Melissa to the Sterns. In this paper, I will represent Sternness and his wife Elizabeth and act as the plaintiff and my friend will be the defendant in the Supreme Court.
The case facts reveal the actual turn of events that led to surrogacy conflict. William Sterns and his wife were unable to have children. The Sterns sought help from New York Infertility center where Mary Whitehead entered into surrogacy contract and agreed be artificially inseminated with Sterns’ sperm and carry their child and later surrender the rights to the Sterns (Allen, 1987). The Infertility Center of the New York (ICNY) did a physical examination of Whitehead to investigate if she was fit for surrogacy and found out issues that could interfere with her comfort surrendering the baby’s rights. However, the ICNY failed to share this issue with William Sterns and his wife. Also, Mary Beth did not take an initiate to consult legal counsel after her conversation with ICNY lawyer. Finally, Whitehead did not bother inquiring if Sterns were fit to parent the child. The Surrogacy process continued, and Whitehead became pregnant, after giving birth, the Sterns noticed her anxiety, and they were afraid she would engage in suicide acts. They, therefore, allowed her to have custody of the baby for a while. Whitehead refused to return the baby. The Stern filled a complaint in the New Jersey Court Seeking enforcement. Whitehead had fled with the baby as the case was in court and threatened the life of the baby if Sterns failed to drop the case seeking enforcement of surrogacy contract. The Sterns sought the help of the police who were supposed to forcedly take the baby away from Whitehead’s house.
Outcome of the case
The New Jersey court had issued a temporally restraining order that required Mellissa be granted to the Sterns. Using this order the law enforcement officials recovered the baby from Florida and assumed custody where Sterns assumed custody of the baby. The case proceeded to trial where Whitehead claimed her desire to raise the baby herself because she had grown strong bond even though she felt obligated to the Sterns. The child development experts offered advice which focused on the interest of the child. The trial ruling declared that the surrogacy contract was enforceable and went ahead and granted the Sterns, the custody of the baby and terminated Whitehead’s parental rights. The Supreme Court partly concurred and partly reversed and remanded the case remains in trial court for further proceedings. The Supreme Court ordered the trial court to give Whitehead visitation rights which then granted her unsupervised and liberal visitation rights with Melissa (Allen, 1987). The trial court allowed major opinion be under the question of the interests of the baby. The Supreme Court was in conjunction with both the analysis and conclusions of the trial courts.
Representing the parties in the Supreme Court
In the Supreme Court, my friend demanded the parental right of the baby claiming the court did not consider her new bond with the baby. The Supreme Court’s legal presentation validated me into owning custody of the baby. I would love my baby to be brought up in a stable family and comparing my status, and my friend’s. It is only fair for the best interests of the child that I raise the baby. The fact that we entered into an agreement at first only to come later on and confront the contract was not the right thing to do.
Legal principle involved
The legal principles of New Jersey public policy rule state that nobody can alter the legal rights of a mother to her child and that child should be retained with their natural parents. However, the case was based on the legal principle of the on best interests of the child. The fact that Whitehead removed the baby from New Jersey and fled with her and also threatened her life, her acts would not be in the best interests of the baby, and she had defiled legal requirements. Also, the baby had to be brought up in a family with a strong foundation as required by law and which would be the best interest of the child. Whitehead did not have this as her financial stability was in doubt.
Baby m case was a very simple and durable principle. The supreme court ruling set a benchmark where surrogacy standards are defined by financial arrangements and parental rights. Today, many wealthy people are willing to pay as much as $100,000 to get a baby. Even with the restoration of parental right on giving birth as Whitehead described, the legal representations end up ruling custody to be shared (Peterson, 2016).The surrogacy law is today driven by money, and people do not see any loopholes in the law (Annas,1987).The controversies of the case also contributed to invention of gestational surrogacy from traditional surrogacy where woman do not have any genetic link to the baby. This has eased the processes of transferring rights.
Allen, A. L. (1987). Privacy, surrogacy, and the Baby M case. Geo. LJ, 76, 1759.
Annas, G. J. (1987). At Law: Baby M: Babies (And Justice) for Sale. The Hastings
Center Report, 17(3), 13-15.
Peterson, J. (2016). Baby M: American Feminists Respond to a Controversial Case.
Journal of Women’s History, 28(2), 103-125.