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In the Matter of Baby M.
New Jersey Superior Court
525 A.2d 1128 (1987)
William Stern and his wife, Elizabeth (plaintiffs), were a well-educated professional couple. Mary Beth Whitehead (defendant) was a financially needy and poorly educated woman. Mr. Stern and Whitehead entered into a surrogate-parenthood contract whereby, in return for Mr. Stern’s payment of $10,000 and his supply of his sperm, Whitehead would use the sperm to fertilize her egg, become pregnant, carry the fetus to term, and then surrender the child to Mr. Stern and renounce her parental rights. Whitehead became pregnant and gave birth to Baby M. Following Baby M.’s birth, Whitehead changed her mind and refused to part with the infant. The Sterns sued to enforce the contract. When court papers were served on Whitehead, she took Baby M. and fled to Florida, where state officials took custody of Baby M pursuant to the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Act. Trial subsequently commenced in New Jersey Superior Court, where Whitehead contended that the contract was both invalid, being contrary to public policy, and also illusory, there being no mutuality of obligation between the parties.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Sorkow, J.)
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