N.J. high court: Woman with no genetic connection to baby carried by surrogate is not mom

Surrogate birth advocates are disappointed with a New Jersey Supreme Court ruling that a woman who arranges for a surrogate to give birth carrying someone else’s eggs is not considered that baby’s mother without adoption. 

Advocates say the parental rights law discriminates against infertile women. In upholding the law, a sharply divided court held that a woman must have a genetic connection with the baby to be immediately considered the mother.

The waiting period for an adoption often takes months, and that could cause problems if the intended mother dies before the adoption is finalized, argued attorney Donald Cofsky who represented the couple who challenged New Jersey’s parental rights law.

“If she hasn’t prepared a will the child gets nothing from her,” said Cofsky of the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys. “Let’s say she did prepare a will and she was of means leaving things to the child, the child is not a relative of hers, the child has got to pay inheritance tax.”

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New Jersey lawmakers passed a bill that would have listed the rights of entering into surrogacy contracts, but it was vetoed by Gov. Chris Christie.

Without a state law that lists the rights of entering into surrogate mother contracts, New Jersey couples are going to other states that allow paid gestational carriers.

“Almost my clients go out of state and the reason for that is easy because you can’t get a paid carrier in the state,” said attorney Melissa Brisman.

Advocates are hoping the Legislature makes another attempt so women who want to use a surrogate can be identified as the mother on the baby’s birth certificate.

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