Kloé Kardashian posed in a hospital bed, looking like a happy mom who had just given birth to a tiny baby boy in her arms. But it was a surrogate mother, not Kardashian, who gave birth to the baby, and critics piled on a photo that many saw as arrogant — and insensitive.
“It’s bad enough men trying to erase women but when a woman tries to airbrush the birthing mother out of the picture it makes me feel a bit sick,” one critic complained on the mom discussion site Mumsnet.
“Renting a womb, commissioning a baby, erasing the surrogate mother and the realities of her experience and posing in a hospital bed as if that cost and reality were hers [is] deplorable,” wrote another.
Others expressed concerns about “Handmaid’s Tale” vibes, referring to Margaret Atwood’s dystopian novel about a future in which the remaining fertile women are forced to give birth to the women of authoritarian leaders who pretend to be the children’s actual mothers.
However, many defended Kardashian for taking the time to bond with her new baby in a hospital bed, whose birth was announced early last month.
The hospital picture was released on Thursday, the day before the premiere of the latest season of “The Kardashians,” which is now available on Hulu.
The first episode focused on the baby’s backstory and birth. It also focused on Khloé Kardashian’s agonizing experience of learning that her father, Tristan Thompson, had secretly cheated on her again and that his son with fitness model Maralee Nichols was born in December.
It is unclear why Kardashian chose to use a surrogate. True Thompson, her first child with Thompson, is now four years old. As their fractured relationship began to mend, the couple planned for a second child. They are no longer together.
In an interview with Heat magazine in July, a source close to Kardashian said undisclosed medical reasons “factored into her decisions.” But “not putting a huge strain on her body” with a second pregnancy was a “huge motivation,” the source added.
There were also reports of fertility issues, but the surrogacy was carried out using Kardashian’s fertilized egg.
Kim Kardashian’s older sister had two of her four children, Chicago and Psalm, through surrogacy. She is said to have placenta accreta, a dangerous condition in which the placenta attaches itself too deeply into the uterine wall.
Surrogacy is increasingly common and is generally considered safe, though the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises making informed decisions. However, the practice is not without its critics.
Some criticize financial arrangements that force women with few options to escape poverty to carry other people’s babies, often with insufficient legal protections. Despite this, many surrogate mothers say they freely chose the arrangements, which they often find fulfilling, and are grateful for the compensation, which has helped change their families financial future.
“I don’t entirely understand the argument against surrogates (although I don’t like the trend for celebrities to use them for convenience if there is no medical need),” noted a poster on Mumsnet.
“They are also autonomous individuals capable of making informed decisions, will have been told about the risks, and decided it’s worth it for them. I appreciate there are issues of power imbalance and equity with surrogates mainly coming from poor backgrounds, and needing the money. Still, I’m not sure if that makes it inherently wrong,” the poster added.