Surrogacy: Hollywood’s Latest Trend

BY MEREDITH KELLY

What do Nicole Kidman, Elton John and Sarah Jessica Parker have in common? They’ve all used a surrogate to carry the newest members of their families. Surrogacy is nothing new, but it seems to be the latest trend in Hollywood. Other celebrities who have used surrogates in the past include Rickey Martin, Neil Patrick Harris, Angela Bassett and Dennis Quaid.

In several states, such as New York and New Jersey, surrogacy contracts are void, unenforceable and contrary to public policy. If a dispute arose between the surrogate mother and the intended mother, the court would not look to the contract to determine parentage. The Baby M controversy in the late 1980’s is the landmark New Jersey case for surrogacy gone awry. This controversy arose out of a “traditional” surrogacy in which the surrogate’s egg was fertilized, via artificial insemination, by the intended father’s sperm. After giving birth to Baby M, the surrogate Mrs. Whitehead, not wanting to give up the child, took the baby and fled to Florida. The court eventually used a “best interest of the child” standard to determine Baby M should be returned to her intended parents, but they refused to terminate the Mrs. Whitehead’s parental rights.

Baby M is now twenty-five years old and surrogacy seems to have gone main stream. Is this a sign that our country has become more accepting of surrogacy, or are some members of American society, such as celebrities and the extremely wealthy, held to different standards?