There is a significant ruling out of New Jersey on the rights of gestational surrogate who gave birth to twin girls who are not genetically related to her. Angelia G. Robinson, agreed to have the children in 2006 for her brother, Donald Robinson Hollingsworth and his spouse, Sean Hollingsworth. The men arranged for the use of an anonymous donor’s eggs and fertilized with sperm from Sean Hollingsworth. The decision follows a similar win by a gestational surrogate in Michigan.
Donald Robinson Hollingsworth is an accountant in Manhattan and must now share custody the baby. The decision represents a growing split among the states which have both embraced and rejected such claims in different cases.
The decision would wipe away the legal distinction between gestational and conventional surrogacy (where the woman’s actual eggs are used).
Ms. Robinson claims that she was coerced into the arrangement. In the Superior Court decision, Judge Francis B. Schultz relied on the decision of the New Jersey Supreme Court in 1988 in the case of Baby M. However, in that case, the surrogate, Mary Beth Whitehead, carried her own genetic child for another couple after artificial insemination with the man’s sperm. She was recognized as having maternal rights. The Baby M court also held (in a controversial pont) that the “surrogacy contract is based on principles that are directly contrary to the objectives of our laws. It guarantees the separation of a child from its mother; it looks to adoption regardless of suitability; it totally ignores the child; it takes the child from the mother regardless of her wishes and maternal fitness.” The judge has attracted criticism of women’s groups in the past for his rulings on the ability to get restraining orders, here.
The case tracks a similar dispute in Michigan where Grand Rapids couple Amy Kehoe and her husband Scott arranged for the use of a gestational surrogate, Laschell Baker after acquiring an egg from Michigan pre-med student and sperm from a sperm bank. Baker succeeded in gaining custody of the twins. She claimed that she took the action after learning that that Kehoe was being treated for a mental illness.
For the Michigan story, click here.