Babies Birthed by Surrogates Don't Need to Have Mother Named on Birth Certificate, Maryland Court Rules

A surrogate mother who has no genetic connection to the baby she is carrying does not have to be listed as the mother on a birth certificate, Maryland's highest court ruled Wednesday.

The case arose from twins born in the Washington suburbs in 2001. The woman who carried the twins for a father used an egg donor and had no genetic relationship to them. Both she and the father did not want her listed as the mother.

In a 4-3 decision, the Maryland Court of Appeals ruled that the babies are not required to have a mother listed on birth papers.

"Maryland's breaking ground here," said Dorrance Dickens, a Washington lawyer who argued the case for the father and the surrogate mother.

Though judges routinely allow blank spaces for mothers on birth certificates in surrogate cases, Dickens said Maryland's court is the first to use a state Equal Rights Amendment to make the decision.

In a 56-page decision, the majority argued that a man who can prove he has no genetic relationship to a child can be ruled not to be its father, so a woman should have the same ability.

"The methods by which people can produce children have changed," Chief Justice Robert Bell wrote in the decision. "... The paternity statute, clearly, did not contemplate the many potential legal issues arising from these new technologies, issues that will continue to arise unless the laws are rewritten or construed in light of these new technologies."

Not all judges agreed. In a dissent, Judge Dale Cathell said the father had the twins "manufactured" and then didn't want them to be listed as having a mother.

"The majority, in essence, holds that if you do not intend to be the mother, you should not be responsible as a mother," Cathell wrote. "There are probably tens, if not hundreds of thousands, of fathers (and certainly mothers as well) who did not intend to be parents at the time of the actions that led to conception, who have been judicially determined to be responsible for the support of the child they did not intend to conceive."