What a cute mother and baby picture! The Sunday Times carried a photo this week of neonatal nurse Naomi Watson with her toddler twin sons Albert and Arthur. Naomi decided that she wasn’t going to hang around waiting for Mr Right, so she picked some sperm from the catalogue and bought her own IVF treatment.
The twins’ dad, Naomi says, is “6ft 2in tall with hazel eyes and has a dog and a good sense of humour.” Not that Albert and Arthur will get to meet their dad’s dog, because they won’t even find out who their dad is until they are 18. In fact their dad’s only contribution to the boys’ upbringing will have been an emission of sperm in a donor clinic.
These little boys may need more than an inherited sense of humour to understand their mother’s determination to bring them into the world deprived of 50 per cent of their birthright. What a selfish decision this is: to deny two innocent boys a loving father. A father to help care for them, stand by them in difficulties, support their mum and be a role model for them as they become young men.
The reason why Naomi’s lopsided family photo hit the headlines is that a rapidly increasing minority of women are opting for this route into single motherhood. Thankfully the numbers involved are still very small: 632 women in 2012, representing 2.3 per cent of all IVF treatments. But this figure has more than doubled since 2007.
Before the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act of 2008, fertility clinics were obliged to consider the child’s need for a father, before providing assisted reproduction. This requirement was swept away in order to placate the gay lobby, who wanted lesbian couples to become co-parents. All that a woman now has to demonstrate is that her children will have “supportive parenting” – a meaningless term.
As Philippa Taylor has explained, lesbian co-parenting carries its own drawbacks for fatherless children. When fundamental precepts of family law and ethics are overturned due to pressure from gay activists, the consequences are not limited to same sex couples but create new norms for all. One of the new norms is the ability of single women to buy children, regardless of their family circumstances.
It’s fashionable to complain about the “objectification” of children: dressing tots in designer outfits, using them to project adult whims, giving them ridiculous rock star names. But surely the ultimate objectification is to purchase a baby at a fertility clinic. Once again, the rights of adults have trumped the rights of the child. Let’s hope that Naomi does not become a poster girls for other needy 30-something women who think a “perfect” sperm donor is better than a good enough dad.