Jess McCabe // 20 May 2008
Really good little set of interviews in today’s Guardian, with lesbian couples and single mums raising kids without fathers. As well as clamping down on women’s right to abortion, amendments before the Commons today could see restrictions placed on the ability of single women and women in same-sex relationships to access IVF (more in the Guardian).
I like this quote from Briony Hanson:
Do I worry about them not having a male role model? I can honestly say I’ve never been less worried about anything in my life. We’re making a conscious decision to surround ourselves with as many different role models as possible: we don’t want our children to grow up in a lesbian-only community. We want them to be surrounded by as diverse a set of people as possible, and I think that will be good for their development.
And this one from Helen Churchill:
I went on a waiting list to have AID [artificial insemination by donor]. My flatmate moved out, and my partner and baby moved in. I didn’t worry about introducing male role models into Leah’s life. There are men in our family, such as grandfathers and uncles, who Leah is close to. But I didn’t feel I needed to orchestrate those relationships – I knew they would either develop or they wouldn’t.
As one of the many, many people raised primarily by women (my mum and then my aunt), I would just say that the argument that fathers are essential to producing functional adults is a blinkered one. It’s not the job of the state or the NHS to dictate what works and what doesn’t as a family configeration – the important thing is surely the presence of loving parental figure(s) and/or guardians, not their gender.
In fact, there’s plenty of pressure to do things the nuclear-family way already. It’s not like the whole of society isn’t set up to expect a mum, dad and 2.4 kids. I am trying to not get angry or offended, but it’s hard:
The bill currently being debated in parliament retains the requirement in the 1990 Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act that fertility clinics take account of the “welfare of the [potential] child”, but replaces the requirement that they also consider a child’s “need for a father” with the phrase “supportive parenting”. The Conservative front bench is up in arms; the wording they would prefer, according to Andrew Lansley, the shadow health secretary, would be “supportive parenting and a father or a male role model”.
Up in arms?! Seriously?! It is deeply worrying to me that the Tory front bench – let’s face it, likely our next government – is actually angry at the thought of women making a conscious choice to have children, just because they don’t want or need a father figure in the picture. I read things like that, and I think, first of all – what business is it of theirs? And secondly – are these people completely lacking in empathy and human feeling?
Given that Lansley is a proponant of cutting the time limit on abortion, it’s interesting, isn’t it, that the same person can be happy to enforce unwanted children on mothers – regardless, presumably, of whether there’s a pater familias – but can’t bare the thought of women seeking invasive medical treatment just to they can bring a wanted, loved child into the world, just because those women don’t fit his retrograde ideas of what a family should look like.