Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban spark debate on surrogacy
Country musician Keith Urban and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, have sparked debate on the term "gestational carrier."
Country musician Keith Urban and his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, have ignited debate about surrogacy, specifically their use of the term "gestational carrier."
The couple's announcement Monday of the birth in Nashville, Tenn., of their second daughter, prompted widespread reaction from newspaper commentators, bloggers and Twitter users worldwide.
And speculation over whether Urban and Kidman paid the surrogate to carry the child had a serious note in Australia, where it is illegal to do so — over and above reasonable costs of the pregnancy — unlike the situation in the United States. Urban is Australian, while Kidman has dual Australian-American citizenship.
A press release issued by the couple on the birth of Faith Margaret Kidman Urban to a surrogate mother on Dec. 28 at the Centennial Medical Centre in Nashville, read: "No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier."
The release came a day after the Golden Globe Awards, controversially hosted by Ricky Gervais, which both attended without revealing the news.
A Twitter search at 10 a.m. Tuesday produced these results:
@sarahmagnetic Ha!!! that is brilliant - when i was pregnant I didn't look human at all, gestational carrier is a perfect description!
@andyheeps I'm off to tell the midwives to change the notes: Gestational carrier admitted at 1548hrs
One commentator, Melinda Tankard Reist, wrote in a comment piece in The Australian newspaper that the term "stripped of humanity" the woman who carried the baby to term.
"The objectification of women's bodies and commodification of childbirth came together yesterday in a single antiseptic phrase contained in the announcement of a second child for actress Nicole Kidman and her musician husband Keith Urban," Reist wrote. The phrase was "reminiscent of other terms popular in the global baby-production industry, such as suitcase, baby capsule, oven and incubator," she added.
Kidman and Urban, who are both 43, are Faith Margaret's biological parents. The couple themselves did not detail why and under what circumstances they needed a surrogate.
According to The Australian newspaper, Kidman has a long history of fertility problems and is known to have previously undergone in-vitro fertilization. She successfully carried their first child, Sunday Rose.
Kidman carried and gave birth to Sunday Rose in 2008. She also has two adopted children from her marriage to Tom Cruise, although she has said recently that she's sorry that she doesn't see the kids, both teenagers, very often. They live with Cruise and his wife Katie Holmes.
"It all sounds like terms from a lawyer-drafted contract — ghastly," the Australian quoted one person as tweeting, adding that the fact that the surrogate was likely to have been paid did little to foster support.
It is illegal to pay for surrogacy in Australia, although "altruistic" surrogacy is now legal throughout country, after being decriminalized in the state of Queensland in 2010.
Recent reforms that allow the "intended parents" to gain legal guardianship in Australia do not apply if the surrogacy was paid for overseas.
In the state of New South Wales, the penalty for paying for surrogacy anywhere in the world will be a $100,000 fine and up to two years in jail after legislation is finalized.
Elton John and his partner, David Furnish, are another celebrity couple to have announced recently the use of surrogacy. The couple used a surrogate mother to deliver their son Zachary, who was born over the Christmas period.