Socialite linked to David Beckham sparks surrogacy debate over newborn baby
A 68-year-old socialite has triggered a major surrogacy debate in Spain after returning from the United States with a newborn baby, in pictures splashed across the tabloids.
Ana Obregón, who was once rumoured to have had an affair with David Beckham, flew to Miami to collect her baby daughter from the hospital where a surrogate mother had given birth, the magazine ¡Hola! revealed on Wednesday.
Asked to wade into the debate, Spain’s Left-wing equality minister, Irene Montero told reporters that surrogacy remains illegal in Spain because the practice exploits deprived women.
“Never forget the women behind [surrogacy]; there is clear poverty discrimination,” Ms Montero said, adding: “It is legally recognised in our country as a form of violence against women.”
Another member of Spain’s Left-wing coalition, education minister Pilar Alegría, said that surrogacy is “an exploitation of women and goes against the interests of children”.
Surrogacy is banned under Spanish law but families can source surrogates from other countries and register their children with Spain’s authorities.
Ms Obregón has not publicly commented on the birth but the news prompted a fierce debate in Spain with the main opposition Popular Party (PP) suggesting that it would be reconsidering its stance on the issue.
PP sources told several media outlets that the party was open to the idea of legalising surrogacy arrangements in Spain “as long as there is no money involved”.
The liberal Ciudadanos party has long campaigned to legalise what it calls “altruistic surrogacy” without money changing hands, and a poll in January showed that 58 per cent of Spaniards believe the practice to be acceptable, while 37 per cent disagreed.
Surrogacy is legal in Florida and the majority of US states, with companies advertising the service typically charging more than $100,000.
Worldwide, the surrogacy market was worth $14 billion (£11 billion) in 2022, and is expected to reach $129 billion (£105 billion) by 2032, according to research by Global Market Insights.
Ms Obregón was also criticised by some for choosing to have a child at the age of 69. Daytime TV presenter Joaquín Prat said Ms Obregón had been motivated by “selfishness”.
“I don’t think that Ana has fully thought about her future, and she has thought more about herself than about the interests of the girl,” the presenter said on TeleCinco.
‘Bring back happiness’
Ms Obregón also came in for criticism after being pictured leaving the maternity hospital in a wheelchair with the newborn on her lap.
According to ¡Hola!, the use of a “mother baby chariot” is hospital policy to reduce the potential for accidents for discharged patients and newborn babies.
¡Hola! reported that the baby would “bring back happiness” to the actress and after the death of her only son three years ago. Álex Lequio died of cancer at the age of 27.
Ms Obregón’s life is a constant source of fodder for Spain’s celebrity magazines and talk shows. She once replied to rumours that she had had an affair with David Beckham by saying he was a “great kisser”.
In a 2017 interview Ms Obregón described how Victoria Beckham had confronted her about her friendship with the then-Real Madrid footballer with a “torrent of abuse”.
“The last time I saw Victoria, she almost pulled my hair out,” she said of a meeting between the two in a Madrid gymnasium.
In 2005, Beckham described rumours of the affair as “hilarious”.