If you need a story of a kind and caring gesture to momentarily lift your spirits, look no further than Princess Mette-Marit of Norway. This royal lady recently became a nanny for a set of twins in India, whose parents weren’t able to be there immediately after their birth. In doing so, the Princess set off a wave of political debate in her country over surrogacy and the ethics of having another woman carry your child.
Though the Princess’s actions have caused a controversy, I think every parent on the planet feels like she made the correct choice. Close friends of Mette-Marit were having twins with the help of a surrogate in India. Unfortunately, the couple had a difficult time securing the proper visas to travel to New Delhi in time for the birth. So while the married couple dealt with the paperwork, the Princess used her royal stature to travel to India and care for the twins.
Princess Mette-Marit didn’t make a huge fanfare about her choice. The hospital staff in India didn’t have any idea that they were dealing with Norwegian royalty. The whole thing might have stayed a secret if a journalist hadn’t recognized the Princess. Even then, Mette-Marit asked that the press hold of on reporting the incident until the twins were safe at home with their parents.
This whole incident might just be a cute story of a Princess helping two adorable little infants in need if it weren’t for the fact that surrogacy is illegal in Norway. In fact, it is technically illegal for Norwegian parents to use surrogates in other countries, though legislators say that the law was created to regulate medical professionals, not parents, and that it is never enforced.
In Norway, many believe that surrogacy exploits impoverished women, confuses children and is a strain on medical resources. A liberal politician there puts it bluntly, “Not having children is not being sick,” he says. “Having children is not a human right.”
Some say that the Princess’s involvement in helping a couple conceive through surrogacy brings her into the political conversation, though Mette-Marit herself seems hesitant. She explains her trip like this:
“There are times in life when one finds oneself in a complex situation where there are few or no good solutions. In such cases one must make difficult decisions, even though there may be repercussions. I found this to be precisely such a situation. There is an important ongoing social debate on surrogacy. My trip was not intended to be a contribution to this debate. For me, this was a situation in which I was in a position to help to care for two newborn babies who were alone in the world.”
As a woman struggling with infertility, I’m disappointed that surrogacy is so controversial. Yes, it is a complex process. But I hate to see small outlying cases stigmatize a practice that is often rewarding and wonderful for families everywhere.
More than that, I’m sad to see a kind gesture by a friend twisted into some political drama. This woman was helping her friends and their babies. Yes, she used her royal status to do so, but the intentions were kind and thoughtful. We need more people in positions of power with this kind of attitude.