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Germaine Greer criticises Elton John over surrogacy birth certificate

1 June 2015
Appeared in BioNews 804

Feminist writer Germaine Greer has criticised Elton John for allowing his husband, David Furnish, to be named as the 'mother' of their sons on their birth certificates. 

The comments were made by Greer at this year's Hay Festival, with Greer claiming the couple were damaging the concept of motherhood.

'Sometimes I think that real the problem is the concept of motherhood, which we can't give any real structure to,' she said.

'Sir Elton John and his "wife" David Furnish have entered on the birth certificate of their two sons that David Furnish is the mother. That will give you an idea of how the concept of motherhood has emptied out. It's gone. It's been deconstructed.'

John and Furnish have two children, Zachary, aged 4, and Elijah, aged 2, who were both born in California using the same surrogate mother. The children also share the same anonymous egg donor.

Since 2014 California recognises two men on children's birth certificates, but prior to there was only space for a 'mother/parent' and a 'father/parent' - perhaps explaining why Furnish is listed as the child's 'mother'.

Recent laws passed in the wake of the introduction of same-sex marriage in California have attempted to simplify the way in which same-sex parents are able to complete their children's birth certificates. Now, there is an option to simply state 'father', 'mother' or 'parent' on a birth certificate depending on the relationship that individual shares with their child.

California is known for its progressive approach towards surrogacy arrangements. Dr Julie McCandless, lecturer in law at the LSE, has previously noted that it was 'one of the first jurisdictions to recognise legal motherhood on a basis other than the gestational link' (see BioNews 594).

The Daily Mail reports that Greer also criticised the use of IVF and claimed that the Abortion Act 1967 was introduced following lobbying efforts by the fertility industry.

John and Furnish recently attracted criticism from Italian designers Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana who expressed their opposition to same-sex adoption, sparking calls from John to boycott their products.

23 March 2015 - by Professor Susan Golombok 
The spat between Dolce & Gabbana and Elton John – apart from raising the somewhat baffling question of what exactly are 'chemical' babies? – highlights the more pertinent question of what are the consequences of IVF, surrogacy and other forms of assisted reproduction for parents and children...
16 March 2015 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
A single man has become a father. Nothing wrong in this, you might suppose...
14 February 2011 - by Natalie Gamble and Louisa Ghevaert 
Surrogacy has been around for many years and disputes rarely arise. There have only been a handful of published cases in the English courts where a surrogacy arrangement has gone wrong. However, the recently published case of TT (a Minor) (1) received national press and radio coverage, focusing on Mr Justice Baker's warning about the inherent risks of surrogacy, awarding care of the baby to the surrogate mother and yet again putting surrogacy in the media spotlight...
7 February 2011 - by Dr Julie McCandless 
While most of us were trying to forget the overindulgence of the festive season, the news that Elton John and David Furnish had become parents following a surrogacy arrangement hit the headlines. It was not long before a magazine had a picture of this newly formed family on the front cover. In a supermarket in Arkansas it was deemed necessary by the store manager to censor their story and a grey plastic cover-up with the words 'Family shield. To protect young Harps shoppers' (usually reserve...
10 January 2011 - by Seil Collins 
Elton John and David Furnish announced the birth of their first child, Zachary Kackson Levon Furnish-John born on Christmas day to a surrogate mother in California....
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