The Handmaid's Tale was written in 1985; if it had been written a decade later, it might have dispensed with the sex part of reproduction, and told a story like that unfolding in Texas where Cindy Close claims she was duped into producing twins for Marvin McMurrey and his partner, Phong Nguyen.
|Close, Nguyen, & McMur|
On the day the children were born, McMurrey told the hospital staff that the babies were his and that Close was a surrogate. He obtained a court order giving himself and Nguyen custody and allowing her only visitation with the twins two hours a day Monday through Friday, but barring her from breast-feeding them. She has hired an attorney and is suing for custody and support. The next court date is November 5. McMurrey is refusing to comment but Close is giving interviews and has set up a website, "CindysTwins."
We at First Mother Forum do not have a problem with gestational surrogacy provided by family members or close friends. However, we do find surrogacy for hire objectionable. But duping a woman to carry a child under false pretenses? Beyond the pale.
We don't envy the judge who has to decide this case. The judge could find there was a contract and grant full custody to McMurrey and Nguyen, but that seems unlikely, Not only are surrogacy contracts for unmarried couples not legal in Texas, same-sex couples are not allowed to marry there. Furthermore, there was no written contract between the parties.
GREED KNOWS NO BOUNDS
The judge could base the decision on "the best interests" of the children, which might benefit McMurrey/Nguyen because they have custody already, and the judge might be reluctant to disturb the twins' living arrangement. They are McMurrey's biological children, after all, and he is wealthy. On the other hand, McMurrey's and Nguyen's shoddy behavior indicates they would not be good role models for the children. Close doesn't get any sympathy either. She used another woman's fertility for her own benefit, and did not have a custody and support agreement in place before going ahead and creating two lives. She's in her 40's, past her years for producing prime ova to be turned into healthy embryos.
The thing that stands out in this tale--with its soap opera plot line--is how greedy all the parties are, how the best interests of the children being created never seemed to be on their radar. The biological mother--the egg donor--was willing to sell a piece of her body to strangers, willing to create a child without assuming any responsibility. Close was planning to live comfortably off McMurrey, presumably with the thought that he would come by and visit now and then, as well as pay her expenses and those of the babies.
THE REAL LOSERS ARE THE TWINS
According to media reports, neither McMurrey nor Close appear to have considered adopting a child who needed a home. McMurrey wanted biological children. Close wanted newborn children. Presumably she also desired the experience of nurturing the children in her womb and delivering them, even though they would be no more related to her than a foster child. I'm going to call her a Greedy Handmaid.
Now, the parties are putting their energies into dueling it out in court--and in Close's case running a website seeking sympathy--rather than on focusing on the needs of the children.
No matter how the judge decides, the real losers in this tale are the twins, created and surrounded by selfish adults. They're lucky to have each other to help them deal with the difficulties they will face, raised by this sorry collection of human beings--a Greedy Handmaid and Exploitative Commanders.
Is This Informal Surrogacy or Exploitation?
The Handmaid's Tale In the world of the near future, who will control women's bodies? Funny, unexpected, horrifying, and altogether convincing, The Handmaid's Tale is at once scathing satire, dire warning, and tour de force. Highly recommended.