In today's society there is no shortage of controversial topics that have left society looking for the right answers. Ranging from abortion to the death penalty to affirmative action, these debatable subjects are usually at the forefront of people's minds, which can be seen from the role these ideas played in the election this year.
While not an issue that has garnered media attention in the past few years, the topic of surrogate motherhood is one that has still left society and the legal system divided over establishing the correct solution. Martha Field, in her work, Surrogate Motherhood, attempts to address that issue and formulate what she believes is the best resolution in conflicts between surrogate mothers and adoptive parents. .
While surrogacy may not be a hotly contested topic for today's society, in the late 1980's, it was a topic that was widely debated across America. One of the most famous situations in which a surrogate mother wanted to keep the baby was the Baby M case. In 1987, William and Elizabeth Stern contracted Mary Beth Whitehead to act as a surrogate mother. Mrs. Whitehead was given $10,000 and was expected to surrender her own parental rights with the birth of the baby. At first Mrs. Whitehead agreed to these conditions; however, once she saw the baby in the delivery room she saw that she could never give her up. .
Within 24 hours of having handed the baby over to the Sterns, Mrs. Whitehead was begging to be allowed to keep the baby for at least a week, which the Sterns agreed to. Mrs. Whitehead then refused to return the baby, and a legal battle ensued. After 6 weeks of testimony and highly publicized trial, the judge presiding over the case ruled that the Sterns had custody of the child, and Mrs. Whitehead was to have no further contact with either the baby or the couple. .
This case, having earned the attention of the legal and legislative systems, showed possible implications that could result from contractual surrogacy.