Excerpts from Baby M ruling

The following are excerpts from Bergen County Superior Court Judge Harvey R. Sorkow's ruling in the Baby M case: ``The primary issue to be determined by this litigation is what are the best interests of a child until now called Baby M.... There can be no solution satisfactory to all in this kind of case. The court will seek to achieve justice for the child.''

``The issues and dimensions of surrogacy are still evolving, but it is necessary that laws be adopted to give our society a sense of definition and direction if the concept is to be allowed to further develop.... Some of the issues that need legislation are: establishing standards for sperm donors, legitimacy of the child, rights of the biological father's spouse, rights of the biological mother's spouse, rights of the two biological actors as to each other and to the child, qualifications for the surrogate, is compensation to the surrogate to be allowed, concerns regarding the imperfect child.... If there is no law, then society will suffer the negative aspects of this alternative reproduction vehicle....''

``[An] argument against surrogacy is that the surrogate mother will be exploited. To the contrary. It is the private adoption that has that great potential, if not in fact, for the exploitation of the mother. In the private adoption, the woman already is pregnant. The biological father may be unknown or at best uninterested in his obligations. The woman may want to keep the child but cannot do so for financial reasons. There is the risk of illegal consideration being paid to the mother. In surrogacy, none of these `downside' elements appear.''

``...[Another] argument is that to produce or deal with a child for money denigrates human dignity. To that premise, this court urgently agrees. The law of adoption in New Jersey does prohibit the exchange of any consideration for obtaining a child. The fact is, however, that the money to be paid to the surrogate is not being paid for the surrender of the child to the father.''

``...[Another] argument against surrogacy is that it will undermine traditional notions of family. How can that be when the childless husband and wife so very much want a child? They seek to make a family.... The male gave his sperm; the female gave her egg in their preplanned effort to create a child - thus, a contract.''

``This court holds ... that in New Jersey, although the surrogacy contract is signed, the surrogate may nevertheless renounce and terminate the contract until the time of conception.... However, once conception has occurred, the parties' rights are fixed.''

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