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N.J. leaves surrogacy rules unsettled

TRENTON, N.J., Oct. 25 (UPI) -- The New Jersey Supreme Court has deadlocked on whether the mother of a child birthed by a surrogate can be listed as the mother on the birth certificate.

The ruling Wednesday leaves unresolved an issue that has plagued childless couples for at least 25 years, The New York Times said.

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The couple, identified in court documents only as A.L.S. and T.J.S., had made legal arrangements with a surrogate to carry their child through gestation and to have the wife listed as the mother on the child's birth certificate. The state of New Jersey stripped that designation from the birth certificate, and the couple sued.

In court filings, the couple argued that an infertile husband is listed as the father if the wife uses a sperm donor, so the same should be done for an infertile wife.

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An appeals court sided with state officials that a woman who was unable to bear children would have to legally adopt the child. The high court split 3-3. Three justices said the law should treat infertile women the same as infertile men, while the others argued to do so would give special privileges to women who could afford pricey reproductive technologies.

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The court urged the Legislature to clear up the murky legal issues surrounding surrogacy. However, Republican Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill this past summer that might have been a national model.

The New Jersey ruling did nothing to settle the mix of state surrogacy laws, some of which even ban the practice. Still, the number of such birthing arrangements continues to increase.

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