CLARE FOGES: It’s disturbing so many stars like Paris are now using surrogates…

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Perhaps this is why I read the news of Paris Hilton 's latest baby with a roll of the eyes. Earlier this year, she became mum to a baby boy called Phoenix, carried and delivered by a surrogate

As I write this column, I am the size of a beluga whale. I take two whole minutes to get out of bed, wear elasticated trousers that look like they belong to Krusty the Clown, have heartburn, hip ache and cankles. I am in the eighth month of my pregnancy, but it feels like the 80th.

Perhaps this is why I read the news of Paris Hilton’s latest baby with a roll of the eyes. Earlier this year, she became mum to a baby boy called Phoenix, carried and delivered by a surrogate. Now she’s rounding off 2023 with a second baby, a girl called London, carried and delivered by another unnamed woman.

Congratulations, of course, to Paris and her husband Carter Reum. I’m sure they will give their babies lots of love. But am I alone in feeling uneasy about the fact that more and more celebrities are turning to surrogacy?

It’s as though using a ‘gestational carrier’ instead of your own womb is just another parenting decision, like whether to go for a jungle theme in the nursery or simply paint it yellow. Isn’t it strange how breezily this radical birthing arrangement is reported, how unshocked we are at the prospect of one woman’s body being rented out to carry another’s child?

Perhaps this is why I read the news of Paris Hilton ‘s latest baby with a roll of the eyes. Earlier this year, she became mum to a baby boy called Phoenix, carried and delivered by a surrogate

Perhaps the most startling example of celebrity surrogate use is Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, who have seven children. Just months after welcoming their fifth child, they had a sixth via surrogate

Perhaps the most startling example of celebrity surrogate use is Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, who have seven children. Just months after welcoming their fifth child, they had a sixth via surrogate

When surrogacy is the only solution for a woman who cannot physically bear a baby, it can be a wonderful thing. Take Martha Lane Fox, 50, who seven years ago had twins via surrogate in the U.S. In 2004, the British entrepreneur was involved in a car crash that broke 28 bones and shattered her pelvis, leaving her unable to carry a child. How amazing that she was able to fulfil her dream of having children.

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Since then, a number of celebrities have used surrogates. The list includes Kim Kardashian, Khloe Kardashian, Amber Heard, Priyanka Chopra, Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Rebel Wilson, Elizabeth Banks, Lucy Liu, Ellen Pompeo and Cameron Diaz.

Of course, some of these will have suffered fertility issues. It doesn’t matter if you have a house in Beverly Hills, trying and failing to have a baby can be devastating. So if they want to have one this way, then all power to them. But — call me cynical — it is hard to believe that all the celebrities who choose the surrogacy route have health issues preventing them from carrying a child. Singer John Legend’s wife Chrissy Teigen was carrying her third child at the same time as a surrogate was carrying their fourth.

Perhaps the most startling example of celebrity surrogate use is Alec and Hilaria Baldwin, who have seven children. Just months after welcoming their fifth child, they had a sixth via surrogate. ‘This is a beautiful journey where many people work so hard to bring a soul into the world,’ gushed Hilaria.

Assisting a woman to have a baby when she cannot physically do so herself can be wonderfully altruistic. But using another woman’s womb to build your own football team? Disturbing. While most celebrities who go down this route allude to medical problems, at least one has been honest that convenience was a factor. Actress Lucy Liu said of her decision to use a carrier: ‘It just seemed like the right option for me because I was working and I didn’t know when I was going to be able to stop.’

Now Paris is rounding off 2023 with a second baby, a girl called London , carried and delivered by another unnamed woman

Now Paris is rounding off 2023 with a second baby, a girl called London , carried and delivered by another unnamed woman

I imagine that the more unremarkable this arrangement becomes, the more reasons women will find for using a surrogate. Paris Hilton says she had children this way because of a fear of childbirth. How long will it be before women decide that not wanting to lose their figure or damage their pelvic floor is reason enough?

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The ethics of what might be called ‘convenience surrogacy’ are troubling. When we look at photos of parents smiling with their precious new baby, it’s easy to forget that somewhere there’s a woman who’s just given birth, who may be nursing stitches in unmentionable places, or hobbling around with a C-section scar — all without the consolation of having a new baby. You might retort that many surrogates do this because they are generous souls who want to help realise a couple’s dream of becoming parents. In some cases this is true. But many will have an overwhelming financial incentive to put themselves through it.

You are not allowed to pay a surrogate in the UK, but you are responsible for reimbursing reasonable expenses. A report by Surrogacy UK says surrogates normally receive between £10,000 and £15,000. A typical surrogate in the U.S., where they can be compensated, is thought to earn £40,000 to £47,000. If you’re on a low income and you’re offered what to you is an astounding sum in return for nine months of your life, is that a choice you’re making freely?

This is my fourth pregnancy, and I can say now with some authority that (for me anyway) it sucks.

It’s months of nausea followed by months of aches, with around two days of ‘glowing mum-to-be’ in the middle. Still, I am very grateful for the chance to have experienced it. Those long months don’t just change your body; they slow you down, prepare you for the massive change to come, get you into a mindset of putting someone else first.I feel real sympathy for those women who wish to have a baby but whose bodies won’t let them. If surrogacy can help, then great. But let’s not allow it to become just another shortcut in our convenience-obsessed culture.

Hurrah! Nigella cancels Christmas cake 

Nigella Lawson has urged Britons to ditch traditional Christmas cake and go for a chocolate one instead.

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Finally, someone has broken the taboo by admitting that eating dry old fruitcake is more chore than cheering treat. Everyone knows the best festive cake is a chocolate yule log.

Next in line for the chop: those trays of sticky dates we all feel compelled to buy at Christmas, despite no one eating them since 1971.

Nigella Lawson has urged Britons to ditch traditional Christmas cake and go for a chocolate one instead

Nigella Lawson has urged Britons to ditch traditional Christmas cake and go for a chocolate one instead

This year, I’ve joined the ranks of the insufferably smug and have already wrapped all my presents and decorated my house before December 1.

It only took the fact I’m giving birth in two weeks’ time to spur me into action…

Stop this daft feud, Harry, life’s too short

Omid Scobie’s new royal-bashing book, Endgame, looks like the final nail in the coffin for the relationship between Prince Harry and King Charles. As someone who lost their father at the age of eight, I can’t help but feel their ongoing feud is a sad waste of time — as is Meghan’s ongoing estrangement from her own father.

Life is short. Christmas is coming. You only get one dad, so get on the phone and start picking up the pieces.

King Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry attend a ceremony to mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 2017

King Charles, Prince William, and Prince Harry attend a ceremony to mark the centenary of the Battle of Vimy Ridge on April 9, 2017

Girls will suffer from Labour’s school tax

Labour’s plan to slap VAT on private education is threatening the closure of single-sex schools.

A shame. From the age of 11 to 16, I went to an all-girls’ school, and I’m grateful for it. Without boys around, and the inevitable obsessing about who fancied who, we were free to be young, silly and innocent.

Labour's plan to slap VAT on private education is threatening the closure of single-sex schools (stock photo)

Labour’s plan to slap VAT on private education is threatening the closure of single-sex schools (stock photo)

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