Law: In The Best Interests of a Child

Baby M. gets a new name, while the battle over surrogacy continues

Just over a year ago, when Baby M. was delivered, not many people had given thought to the issues of surrogate birth. By last week, when the custody judgment was rendered, was there anyone still unschooled in its painful dilemmas? Even so, no one can have felt the lessons more deeply than the child's father, William Stern, a New Jersey biochemist who was awarded custody, or her mother, Mary Beth Whitehead, who lost the little girl she gave birth to as part of their surrogate agreement.

The 32-day nonjury trial put flesh on once abstract matters. It made plain the almost...

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