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In this Essay, I want to explore the Baby M case from a different, less philosophical perspective. The question I pose is simply this: how did the Sterns and the Whiteheads find one another in the first place? After all, apart from their New Jersey location (and a shared fondness for Bruce Springsteen), the two couples had little in common. Mary Beth was a high school dropout; Betsy had a Ph.D. and M.D. from the University of Michigan. Rick was a Vietnam vet fighting an ongoing battle with unemployment and alcoholism; Bill led what close friends called "a quiet, industrious life." The Whiteheads and the Sterns did not travel in the same social, employment, or consumer circles. How was it, then, that these two couples, strangers to one another with nothing in common but complementary desires, were able to connect and to reach a deal regarding the most intimate of arrangements: insemination, pregnancy, and parenthood? To put the question another way: How did a market for babymaking get going in New Jersey in the mid-1980s?

In asking this, I put aside the question of whether there should be such a market, as well as the question of what exactly surrogacy sells: the baby itself, the mother's reproductive services, or the mother's parental rights. I simply want to look at the market that did in fact exist and ask how it came about.


Business Organizations Law | Family Law | Health Law and Policy | Law | Law and Gender