Liz Hoggard: Having a baby on your own is no picnic, so we need help

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The Independent Online

It's no surprise to me that the demand for assisted conception from single women is rising rapidly. If Mr Right (or even Mr Right Now) doesn't come along, it shouldn't mean women such as me automatically lose out on parenthood.

I completely understand why, after years of agonising, SadFab woman - single and desperate for a baby - has decided to take control of her biological destiny and use a sperm donor. Readers of the 'Daily Mail', of course, subscribe to the view of the single woman as a control-freak, ball-breaking perfectionist. Too selfish to have a relationship, she'll be left on the shelf clutching a Prada handbag, not a baby.

Well, personally, I haven't spent the past 10 years squandering a six-figure income on handbags and a second home in Norfolk. But it has to be said that I have been working ball-breaking hours on a job I love. Nor have I been turning down prospective husbands because they aren't rich or handsome enough. To be honest, a credit card and non-sexist views tend to do the trick. It's just that life doesn't always work out quite as you planned.

Can anyone, any longer, seriously say there's a problem with a woman having a baby on her own? Especially when there are so many other ways that the standard father package can go wrong. There are some great dads around, but I'm always suspicious when people start fetishising fatherhood. The most recent figures show that only 12.5 per cent of absent fathers make regular maintenance payments.

It seems out of date to withhold sperm donor services from single women when we know we can so easily do it ourselves. And is using a donor worse than getting together in your late 30s with a guy you half like, to have a kid? Or even staying in a failed marriage?

As for the stereotype of solo mothers who are too lazy to have a relationship, baby-making is no picnic. I have close friends who have spent years in the waiting room of the assisted conception unit, swallowing pills, injecting themselves with hormones, having chemically-harvested eggs collected. It takes take real bravery - and a lot of money - to go it alone.

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