Kloé Khardashian posed for a photo in a hospital bed, looking like a blissful mother who had just given birth to the little boy in her arms. But it was a surrogate, not Kardashian, who really went out of her way to give birth to the newborn, and critics piled on a photo that many viewed as arrogant — and insensitive.
“It’s bad enough that men try to erase women, but when a woman tries to erase the biological mother from the picture, it makes me a little sick,” complained a critic on the mother discussion site Mumsnet.
“Renting a womb, having a baby adopted, erasing the surrogate mother and the reality of her experience, and posing in a hospital bed as if those costs and reality were hers [is] deplorable,” wrote another.
Others complained about “Handmaids’ Tale vibes”, referring to Margaret Atwood’s distopic novel about a future where the remaining fertile women are forced to give birth to wives of authoritarian leaders who pretend to be the real mothers of the children.
But several defended Kardashian for taking the time to bond in a hospital bed with her new baby, whose birth was announced early last month.
The hospital photo was released Thursday, the day of the premiere of the final season of reality show “The Kardashians,” now streaming on Hulu.
The first episode featured the backstory of the baby and his birth. It also centered on Khloé Kardashian’s painful experience when he learned that father Tristan Thompson had secretly cheated on her — again — and that his son with fitness model Maralee Nichols was born in December.
It’s unclear why Kardashian used a surrogate. She gave birth to her first child with Thompson, True Thompson, now 4 years old. The couple were planning a second baby as their broken relationship began to mend. They are no longer together.
In an interview with Heat magazine in July, a source close to Kardashian said undisclosed medical reasons “played a role in her decisions.” But “not putting a lot of strain on her body” with a second pregnancy was a “huge motivation,” the source added.
There were also reports of fertility problems, but Kardashian’s fertilized egg was used for surrogacy.
Older sister Kim Khardashian had two of her four children, Chicago and Psalm, via surrogacy. She reportedly suffers from placenta accreta, a dangerous condition in which the placenta attaches too deeply into the uterine wall.
Surrogacy use is becoming more common and generally considered safe, although the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends making informed decisions. However, the practice has its detractors. Some criticize financial arrangements that force women who have few opportunities to escape poverty to carry other people’s babies, often with insufficient legal protection. Still, many surrogate mothers say they have freely chosen the arrangements, which they often find satisfying, and are grateful for the compensation that has helped change their family’s financial future.
“I don’t quite understand the argument against surrogates (although I don’t like the trend of celebrities using them for convenience when there’s no medical need),” noted a poster on Mumsnet.
“They are also autonomous individuals who can make informed decisions, who have been told about the risks and decided it is worth it to them. I appreciate there are issues with power inequality and equality with surrogates who are mainly from poor backgrounds and need the money, but I’m not sure if that makes it inherently wrong,” the poster added.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.