An Arkansas woman, Jennifer Huddleston, was visiting her local grocery store, Harps, when she saw a US Weekly Magazine protected by a covering that read: “Family Shield: To protect young Harp shoppers.” What was the family shield protecting young Harps shoppers from? A cover photo of Elton John, David Furnish and their new son, Zachary, born from a surrogate carrier. Huddleston took a photo of the censorship and posted it to Twitter, and thus the day’s drama began.
Harps has since issued an apology and has taken the shields down as a response to all of the negative press that they have been getting. They have also, however, voiced that they felt like they were in a lose-lose situation. Initially the shield went up because some shoppers complained that the content was inappropriate — yet when they reacted to one set of complaints, the outrage rose to a much more monumental scale giving them far more press then I’m sure they would have liked.
What happened here with this once incidence in Arkansas, is probably indicative of a much bigger picture that is going to begin coming to the forefront of global consciousness in the coming years. Surrogacy and gestational carriers have been becoming more and more prevalent throughout the world with advances in medicine making it easier and easier for a surrogate to carry someone else’s baby for them. In an earlier post we talked about Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban having their own child from a surrogate — Elton John was just one more recent case of surrogacy made visible because of the fame that is associated with the recipient.
Because surrogacy is such a new concept, many people still greet it with fear and hesitation. The same was true with early IVF procedures and reactionary concerns that we were soon going to all be having test-tube babies. This has turned out not to be the case, and in fact, IVF is now a fairly commonplace procedure allowing many women, who years ago would have not been able to be mother, to have their own children. Someday perhaps surrogacy will be the same, but for now, we still get some small and large daily drama when it hits our newstands, censored or not.