In the year since the New Jersey Supreme Court restored Mary Beth Whitehead-Gould's parental rights in the Baby M case and declared surrogacy-for-pay illegal, five states--Michigan, Florida, Indiana, Nebraska and Kentucky--have banned surrogacy, raising to seven the number of states that prohibit the practice.
Legislatures in more than a dozen states, including New York, are considering anti-surrogacy legislation. Louisiana had banned surrogacy before the Whitehead decision. Several other legislatures are looking at regulating surrogacy. Other groups, including the American Bar Assn., are trying to decide whether to condemn or approve the practice.
On Feb. 3, the first anniversary of the Whitehead decision by the New Jersey Supreme Court, a bill was introduced in Congress to ban the practice of paying a woman to conceive. The bill is aimed primarily at baby brokers such as Noel Keane, who arranged the Whitehead surrogacy in New York City. It would set a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Andrew Kimbrell, counsel to the National Coalition Against Surrogacy, said much of the current movement against commercial child-bearing in statehouses and courtrooms is due to the Baby M case. "Mary Beth Whitehead set the tone that maternal bonds will be stronger than commercial bonds and that you cannot regulate parental love by contract," he said.
Other groups, such as the National Assn. of Surrogate Mothers, support regulating surrogacy, including strict screening to prevent future Baby M cases.