It has been much too long for Linda and Richard Weeks. Unlike most women who wait only a short while to discover if they've been successful in trying to get pregnant, for Linda, this has been a long and hard struggle. Trying to have a child for fourteen years and being unsuccessful at it must be a soul-destroying experience especially when one has tried every available method. At one point, they were on the verge of adopting one but that only made them realise how much they really wanted one of their "own".
In Linda's opinion, she has only one way out of this problem and this is to advertise for an egg donor. Her advertisements at newsagents in her area yielded some offers. A few women came forward; some were deemed suitable but then backed out. Her only hope now is to widen her search and it is here that London Transport may be able to help her get an egg donor.
Fifty London buses will carry an advertisement from the Weeks for an egg donor. This move is controversial for a variety of reasons. Is this desperation or determination? Is Linda too old at 54? And should London Transport really be part of this project?
Some might consider Linda and Richard desperate; others would call them determined, but these are subjective assessments and are best not carried out by those of us who have never even met them. How persistent one ought to be in trying to do anything is personal; when it comes to having a child, an outsider cannot possibly comment on when a couple ought to give up.
A similar argument holds with regard to age. Linda, at 54, is older than is the average mother but one cannot judge the quality of her parenting skills based on this fact alone. She is probably as confident as are most prospective mothers in their twenties or thirties and almost certainly more confident than the teenager who becomes a mother as the result of an unplanned pregnancy.
The real moral worry is the role that London Transport has in her fight for a child. Undoubtedly, Mrs. Weeks needs to throw the net wider than her local Newsagents if she wants an egg donor but by advertising on London buses what sort of precedent is she setting for others with medical needs as desperate as her own?
Understandably, this may not be Mrs. Weeks' concern at the present but it should concern London Transport. If they believe that the Weeks have a special case, what distinguishes their case from the case of another couple who is has been unsuccessful in having a child or indeed from someone who needs a lung transplant or a new kidney?
If medical need, assuming that the Weeks case is one of "medical need" (some may argue that having children is not a medical need) is an area that our transport system proposes to address, then they have taken on a rather ambitious project. If the Weeks' advertising campaign is successful then it is likely that other couples who can afford to, will follow the same path. Moreover, if London Transport is helping a couple who desperately want a child, can they reasonably turn away requests for advertising from individuals with medical needs that are at least as important, albeit different, from those of the Weeks?
The situation is far from simple. If London Transport is carrying the Weeks' advertisement as an exception, one must ask why as there will be plenty of other deserving cases. If the Weeks' advertisement is the start of a new type of advertising on our transport system, then the question is how London Transport will decide which individuals' medical needs are worth viewing on London's roads. And then there's the question of what happens to those who can't afford the advertising fee of £2000.