There can’t be many people who didn’t do a double-take on reading the story of Daryl Lee and Luke Harris, the gay couple who are expecting three babies in seven months after meeting a series of surrogate mothers online.
When even Sarah Jones, the trustee of Surrogacy UK, a not-for-profit organisation, is describing this case as ‘extreme’, it’s clear that something is amiss. Multiple births are extremely hard work and have the potential to stretch even the strongest of relationships to their limits. Friends of mine with twins have reported getting through the newborn stage where life seems to consist of an endless round of feeding and changing on next-to-no sleep, fuelled by a mixture of adrenalin and maternal hormones.
Has anyone thought to enquire how two men are going to cope with the simultaneous demands of three fractious and demanding newborn babies? No amount of tastefully chosen nursery decor can compensate for the fact that here are three babies, born with an inbuilt primal need for the proximity and intuitive maternal care, all forcibly removed from their mothers?
And what about the women themselves? The photograph of the two gay men spoke louder than words, there they were right at the centre of the picture with the women relegated to the peripheries. Here we see a ready made harem of young women bearing babies for two older men, without the necessity for sex.
There also seems something unseemly about the mother of one of the young surrogates, who has been given the moniker ‘Mama Stork’, as not only did she introduce her daughter to the idea of surrogacy, but also takes care of this group of three young women who are all being paid up to £15,000 apiece for the use of their eggs and wombs. One has to ask whether or not there has been some element of coercion involved and there seems to be an issue of women’s welfare at stake, especially when one considers that at least one of these women will be handing over their own genetic children and that for another, a 27 year old, this will the fourth child whom she has born, only to give away.
The women may look dewy eyed at the prospect of being able to help someone else, but in common with the male couple procuring the children, all talk focused around their feelings, needs and desires; the children did not get a look in. No-one has thought to ask how these children may feel later on in life or how they are going to cope having been deliberately deprived of a mother to suit the whims of adults.
Perhaps it’s being pregnant which is increasing my visceral repugnance for surrogacy, even when it technically falls within the boundaries of the law. It takes a staggering amount of forced emotional detachment and self-deception to suppress the natural bonding that takes place during pregnancy and birth. Do these women really feel nothing for the lives that they are nurturing inside them? Can they honestly claim that they have no natural interest or curiosity as to what has happened to the child they bore for nine months? What studies have been conducted on the long-term mental health and wellbeing of surrogates?
The promotion of the specious concept of LGBT rights to parenthood threatens to eliminate the concept of motherhood and rides roughshod over children’s needs. Nothing does more than surrogacy to reinforce the notion that women are little more than breeders.
Children are not commodities to be made to order and neither are women merely gestational carriers. Children’s relationships with their natural parents are central to their sense of identity, future development and welfare. To deliberately contrive to remove a child from a natural parent is abusive.
Lest anyone be mistaken, my objection to surrogacy and the severing of the natural links of natural parenthood is not confined to gay couples but applies across the board to gay and straight couples alike. In many ways one cannot blame the LGBT community who are only following the path set by heterosexual couples for decades now. When we attempt to equivocate the harsh truths surrounding the damage done to children by divorce or a series of step-parents or hold up single parent families as being an equal ideal under the banner of equality, then we effectively erase the importance of the biological mother and father and compromise our rights over our own children.