Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Elton John – just a few of the celebrities who have recently welcomed new babies via gestational surrogate. They’ve happily gone public with the news, and most sing the praises of the generous women who gave them the opportunity to become parents.
But when it comes to egg donation, publicists are silent. There are no press releases, no magazine covers notifying the world that a different kind of generous woman – one who donated her eggs – has helped the new parent overcome infertility.
An article popup: yes this week on CNN.com addressed this very issue and, in fact, calls it “Hollywood’s dirty little secret.” In responding to a reader who wondered if celebrities are more fertile than the rest of us – with many having babies in their mid- and late 40s – Dr. Roshini Raj gives the simple answer: no.
”While being famous can get you far in life, it doesn’t extend the warranty of your ovaries,” he responds. “It just gives that A-lister greater access to cutting-edge fertility treatments and doctors that the rest of us may not know about or be able to afford.”
To those of us in the field of reproductive health, and particularly third party reproduction, it’s a no-brainer. But it poses an interesting dilemma for the world of infertility. It shows us that many people are either unaware of the incredible advancements and options with ART – or don’t have access to them. While we can’t expect (nor should we want) celebrities to educate the world about fertility treatment, sharing their stories brings the issue to the forefront. It gets people talking – and it would show couples who are struggling to have a baby that celebrities don’t have magical reproductive systems. That the 44-year-old star who just gave birth to twins probably didn’t do it without the help of many other people.
Therein lies the dilemma. Just because that star is a public figure, is she any less deserving of privacy when it comes to her body and health? She still has the right to a private life – and so do her children. Disclosure is an incredibly sensitive, challenging issue for anyone who becomes a parent through egg donation. The question of when and who to share details with can only be answered by the parent. A celebrity is no different.
While we should not expect anyone to share their means of building their family unless and until they are ready, it has been refreshing to see an increasing number of public figures share their struggles. As awareness grows, we hope that more people will in turn feel comfortable sharing their choice to utilize third party reproduction. It can only lessen the mystery and stigma that still surrounds egg donation and surrogacy and can help the rest of the world see it for what it is - an incredibly generous and appreciated act. We hope that the awareness it brings to such a delicate issue will educate people about their options and, in turn, start a true movement that will make fertility treatment more accessible for all. And at the very least, that it will provide some comfort to hopeful parents that they are not alone.
What do you think? Do celebrities "owe" the public full disclosure when it comes to how they build their families?