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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Celerbrities and surrogacy

January 2011 seems to be saturated with stories of surrogacy. Recently we heard that Elton John and partner David Furnish have welcomed a little baby boy into their family with the help of a surrogate mother, and just yesterday that Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban have welcomed a baby girl to their family with the help of a surrogate mother. Hello magazine has provided a gallery of images of celebrities who have had help from surrogate mothers; Dennis Quaid, Neil Patrick Harris, Ricky Martin, Michael Jackson, Kelsey Grammar, Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick. It seems that surrogacy is totally 'in'!

I noticed a distinct difference in tone in a couple of the recent articles and wanted to put it out there for fellow bloggers and other interested visitors' comments:

The SMH reported today on the recent birth of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban's second child via a surrogate mother. The article then goes on to discuss the recent changes to the law in NSW wherein the ban on commercial surrogacy has been clarified to extend to commercial surrogacy arrangements outside Australia. You can read the article here. Over all I felt there was a fairy balanced tone to this article where it was questioned as to how effective these laws may be.

In contrast an article in The Australian on the 5th of January this year began with the happy news of the birth of Elton John and David Furnish's first child, via a surrogate mother. The article then moves into "ethical" aspects of surrogacy as highlighted by Margaret Sommerville. Although the article claims to be listing the key ethical aspects of surrogacy, in fact the same point is made over and over again which is basically the right of the child born via surrogacy to know the genetic parents. You can read the article here.

Both articles use celebrities and surrogacy as a jumping point to discuss or highlight issues related to surrogacy and more broadly on creating families. Where the SMH article seems simply to present the current legal status of surrogacy in NSW and question the practicality of these changes to the law,
The Australian article seems to be taking a specific stance on surrogacy, and not just surrogacy but more to the point, same sex parenthood. For example:

"On the question of a child's right to both a mother and father we are told by some that society has moved on, progressed. We now live in an era of genderless parenting where function has prevailed over form. However, as Somerville notes, research is showing men and women parent differently. There is emerging evidence that certain genes in young mammals are activated by parental behaviour, for example in epigenetics, which studies the interaction of genes and environment. As Somerville says, science may well show that complementarity in parenting (having both a mother and father) does matter for children's wellbeing in ways we have not understood."

It would be great to hear from some families who have become parents with the help of a surrogate. What do you think about these articles and the issues they raise?

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