The Terrible Pitfalls of Consumer Conception; COMMENTARY

Article excerpt

Byline: LESLEY GARNER

TO be born unloved is a tragedy. But it can be equally tragic to be loved too much. The baby registered as Hope Williamson, though her new mother and father are called Bickerstaff, is not yet two weeks old but her future is already darkened by emotional turmoil and the threat of legal action.

She was innocently born into a life where four parents desired and wanted her and for whom four parents are now preparing to do battle. And all in the name of love.

The case of Hope is the latest potential disaster in the disturbing history of surrogacy. It is a history that is as old as humanity. At its most pure and selfless it is the most sacrificial form of sharing, something a sister can do for a sister. But even when it is carried out for the most generous of motives it still produces a child of confused parentage.

At its most impure, however, it is a toxic mix of misguided sentimentality, financial motive and selfish desire masquerading as human right.

The longing for children is one of the most fundamental and powerful human drives, along with lust, aggression, love and hatred.

Infertility and barrenness have been recognised as the sources of tragedy and unfulfilment in human lives throughout history, just as motherhood at its best is shortplannedfor the purest and least selfish-form of human love.

But when a surrogacy goes wrong, all we see is the distortion of maternal love and the elevation of adult longings over the interests of a newborn child.

There cannot be a truly happy ending in this case. Even if baby Hope is spared a prolonged fight over her future, none of the adults involved will be free from suffering.

One set of parents will be left devastated and bereft. Whose fault is this?

In the last 20 years the advances in artificially assisted childbirth are such that fertility and childbearing are seen as goals that, if you want them badly enough, can be planned, saved for and bought like any other commodity. …