TRENTON, N. J. — A lawyer for the surrogate mother who lost custody of Baby M asked the New Jersey Supreme Court on Monday to return to her care the child she bore under a $10,000 contract.
Harold Cassidy told the court that the contract between surrogate Mary Beth Whitehead and William and Elizabeth Stern should be voided because surrogacy exploits women and harms the children conceived under the practice.
But Gary Skoloff, who represents the Sterns, urged the court to "take hold of the issue, take step one" and sanction surrogacy.
The case began when Whitehead, 30, agreed to be artificially inseminated with William Stern's sperm and bear a child for him and his wife for $10,000. Shortly after the baby's birth on March 27, 1986, Whitehead fled to Florida with the infant, saying her feelings had changed so dramatically that she could not give up her child.
She seeks to overturn a March 31 decision by Superior Court Judge Harvey R. Sorkow, who upheld the surrogate contract, severed Whitehead's parental rights and awarded custody to the Sterns.