In 1986, the issue of surrogate parenting erupted in New Jersey when biological mother Mary Beth Whitehead decided she wanted to keep the child she gave birth to for William Stern, who donated the sperm, and his wife. The ensuing custody battle between the Sterns and Whiteheads — played out in courts and on national TV — raised all sorts of legal and ethical questions. On the one hand, several states and foreign countries outlawed surrogate pregnancies altogether after the "Baby M" case, but it is still legal in many other places both inside the U.S. and out.
Retro Report takes a look back at the Baby M case and what has happened to surrogate parenting since then, especially as gay men start to get married. It's fascinating, troubling, hopeful, and discomforting all at once, but there is one bit of unequivocally good news: Baby M, or Melissa Stern, is thriving today. Presumably, that's what every parent — surrogate or otherwise — should want. --Peter Weber
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