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Sacred Bond

One of the most outspoken feminists, authors, and activists of our time here privides a riveting examination of the issues raised by the celebrated Baby M surrogacy case.

In 1985, Mary Beth Whitehead signed a contract agreeing to act as a surrogate mother for Bill and Betsy Stern for a payment of $10,000. The following year, after giving birth to the child, known in this case as "Baby M," Mary Beth Whitehead decided to break her contract and keep the baby. Her decision led to a court battle that made headlines everywhere.

With passion and wisdom, Phyllis Chesler explores the impact of this landmark case on our society's legal, psychological, and ethical condition. Sacred Bond uses this case to explore such questions as: What makes a mother--or father--fit, and who decides? Should surrogacy be abolished? Who can determine a child's "best interests"? In what ways does the standard surrogate-mother contract constitute baby selling and the exploitation of women? Will pregnancy and childbirth become a blue-collar "occupation"?

Sacred Bond projects the impact of the Baby M case into the future, questioning how the modern definition of family will evolve--and whose definition will prevail. Dr. Chesler probes these questions with all of their disturbing implications. With the same stunning lucidity that marked her best-selling Women and Madness, Chesler now makes the issues raised by the Baby M case a part of our modern consciousness.

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Praise:

"Phyllis Chesler's Sacred Bond is fascinating and essential reading for anyone interested in the crucial debate over mothers' rights."
--Margaret Atwood

"Phyllis Chesler's work is our public conscience. We owe her an enormous debt for keeping cutting-edge feminist issues alive."
--Letty Cottin Pogrebin

"Though she writes from an avowedly radical feminist perspective, the author explores the issues with an understanding of, and openness to, other views, rare in literature of this genre. Her book resonates with a philosophic imagination, a grace of style, and a mordant wit that, for one rapt reader, made it impossible to put down."
--Cyril C. Means. Jr., Professor of Constitutional Law, New York Law School

"A powerful critique of the way many of us were inclined to think as we read of the Sterns and of serving sociological and psychological generalizations that pass for truth today simply fail to do justice to the range and complexity of human feeling…forceful and suggestive social comment. The author rallied to Mrs. Whitehead Gould's side during her recent, extensively reported struggle with William and Elizabeth Stern. Ms. Chesler regards the Baby M case not only a tragedy for a child, for its birth mother, for its adoptive parents - the wrangling between them is amply documented - but as an instance of a larger problem she has been actively studying for some time: "The reproductive and custodial rights of all women."
--Front Page New York Times Book Review, Robert J. Lifton

"In her latest book, Sacred Bond: The Legacy of Baby M. Phyllis Chesler brings a feminist version of the Wisdom of Solomon to the complex issues surrounding parental rights and custody. Chesler's account of the story reads quickly and easily - at times almost like a fast-paced thriller, thanks to her excellent writing. Using the Baby M case as a launching pad, she raises a series of tough questions that force the reader to confront the contradictions inherent in our present definitions of family, father, mother, child."
-- San Francisco Chronicle

"Phyllis Chesler uses the simple facts of this case to explore the complex realities of reproduction, and especially of surrogacy. Her conclusions, like the author herself, are deeply provocative, controversial and complex. She shies away from no issues and makes the reader think on every page. This is also a deeply disturbing book because there are no easy answers to problems raised when the oldest of human functions, namely procreation, are assisted and challenged by the newest of technological innovations. None of the sources we are used to consulting for authoritative answers to moral, legal and emotional issues--the Bible, the Constitution, the great philosophers, brilliant scientists--have the answer, because there is no answer, only more questions, which beget questions themselves."

--Alan Dershowitz

"Chesler is at her best when she focuses on the issues unique to surrogate motherhood. She makes a number of telling points that were largely ignored in the extensive press coverage."

--Newsday

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