I was spammed today on Twitter, by an account called Gaydads, purporting to belong to Barrie Drewitt-Barlow, one half of the UK’s first gay couple to become fathers in the UK.
Without wishing to make too much of it, here’s their opening shot, along with their responses to questions as to the ethics of paying vulnerable women to donate eggs, and/or go through pregnancy and give up their newborn child. I would suggest that they need to employ a social media manager, given that they are currently hawking themselves and their children through the media, in order to drum up publicity for their new business which aims to
exploit vulnerable cash-strapped women in America help predominantly homosexual couples circumnavigate the UK surrogacy laws by going abroad.
They are obviously threatened enough to have done their research and found out where I hail from to use as “ammunition” as opposed to engage with any actual arguments. If in doubt, chuck a few ad homs about, in an attempt to make yourselves feel morally superior. I wouldn’t usually bother blogging such silliness, however I think it’s worth noting the quality of the debate, and the personalities behind a deeply dubious business.
I’ve blogged before about the inherent difficulties with surrogacy, namely that it entails the destruction of human life if in-vitro fertilisation is used, but of equal concern, is the exploitation of women and the treating of children as commodities to be bought and sold.
Here’s a few snippets from their website. I’ve added my own comments in red:
Everyone has the basic human right to be able to have a child, really, do they? I can’t find that anywhere in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, nor is it in the European Convention on Human Rights. Wishful thinking based on subjective opinion – perish the thought!!
not everyone deserves to be a parent! – only those who are good-looking and possess class and/or money, preferably a lot of it to pay for our services, should have children.
There is no doubt about it; foreign surrogacy arrangements ARE attractive, which is why hundreds of couples every year go to America and other destinations to find a surrogate and egg donor. The laws on surrogacy are very encouraging for us to travel abroad and get our babies handed over to us without too much fuss at all. – no pesky restrictive laws surrounding the expenses that need to be paid and lax legislation allowing the obliteration of the mother from the birth certificate – we can pretend that she never existed! Plus, added bonus – we’ll push gestational surrogacy at you, more pennies for us and allegedly less of an emotional link for the mother with the baby inside her. Win, win!!
It is also worth noting that once your baby is born in the USA, we can also petition the courts to have both the intended parents names put on the birth certificate. There will be NO mention of the pregnancy being a surrogate pregnancy whatsoever. Please also note that this is NOT meant to deceive, it is a positive way forward for you to be recognised as the parents of your baby. – spin worthy of Alistair Campbell or Mandy. Superb piece of re-framing there chaps!
Where are all the feminists when you need them? The silence could not be more deafening. Where is the sisterhood? What could be more exploitative than rich men using the bodies of poor or less-well off women? Nothing could be more of a feminist issue as it is only women’s bodies who can be exploited in this way and typically for the benefit of men – lesbian couples rarely have to resort to overseas surrogacy. The Drewitt-Barlows argue that surrogacy may help straight couples who have been rendered infertile by the ravages of cancer, but that still does not make the initial exploitation any the more acceptable. This has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with the exploitation and de-humanisation of poor women by richer ones.
Though Drewitt-Barlow seem to be more concerned with advancing their partner business in the USA, it’s worth looking at the situation in India where the business of wombs for rent is thriving. The women who ‘choose’ to become surrogates are confined to clinics or supervised homes where they can be closely monitored. Their “choice” such as it is, is borne out of economic necessity and cannot said to be in any way free. Which is precisely why the laws remain so stringent in the UK, where incidentally, gay single people cannot gain full legal rights over a child born by surrogacy.
For the record the Drewitt Barlows stated that they did not endorse India for potential surrogate couples, shortly after India issued a ban on gay couples in an attempt to tighten up on their surrogacy laws. This was, they said, due to concerns about exploitation, besides their partner clinic with whom they have negotiated preferential rates is in LA, where they spend 50% of their time. The exploitation of the poor by the rich is not mitigated by the location, something tells me that Tasmania may be the next location on the cards.
There can be no justification for the exploitation of poor women by predominantly rich men. There can be no justification for deliberately contriving a situation whereby a child is deprived of its biological parent and traded like a commodity. There can be no justification for the exploitation of young children, such as those belonging to Drewitt-Barlow who are mercilessly flaunted in the press, in order to propagate the ideology that children no longer need their biological mothers.
Perhaps that’s why Drewitt-Barlow are so angry – it’s impossible to defend the indefensible. Anyone who might object to the trading of babies, to the Western colonisation of poor women’s bodies abroad, to the reduction of women to the level of brood-mare – well they are simply ugly, lack class, are homophobic and don’t deserve to be parents.