Surrogacy in the News

Film: The Guys Next Door

The Guys Next Door
Directors: Allie Humenuk and Amy Geller | A Squared Films | 2016

THE GUYS NEXT DOOR (Trailer) from Allie Humenuk on Vimeo.

Synopsis:

Humenuk and Geller spent over three years filming this intimate portrait of a gay couple with two daughters birthed by their close friend. THE GUYS NEXT DOOR explores the struggles and possibilities that creating family brings. It is a timely film that both embraces and transcends gay rights and gay families. In the words of esteemed documentary filmmaker Ross McElwee (Sherman’s March), “with nuance, verve and humor, this film explores the humanity that connects us all.”

Visit the film’s website >

Film: Made in India

Made in India
Directors: Rebecca Haimowitz and Vaishali Sinha | 2010

“Made in India” is a feature length documentary film about an infertile American couple and their journey to India for a baby. The movie’s website describes it as “weaving together personal stories within the context of a growing international industry… [exploring] a complicated clash of families in crisis, reproductive technology, and choice from a global perspective.”

From the filmmakers:

As women deeply interested in issues of reproductive rights, social justice and global issues, the subject of “outsourcing” surrogacy to India captivated us from the moment we first read about the practice.

We aim to create a film that goes beyond sensationalist headlines and uncovers the personal lives and choices of the surrogates and the infertile Americans involved.

Learn more about “Made in India” > 

Article: The Trouble with Renting a Womb

The Trouble with Renting a Womb
By Abby Rabinowitz | The Guardian | April 28, 2016

This long article is well worth the read. It follows a group of gestational mothers in India, providing unusually deep insights into their lives, the contexts that frame their decisions, and their experiences within surrogacy arrangements and after. It also features conversations with the clinics and intended parents that hire gestational mothers, and touches upon the controversial effort to ban the practice in India.

Excerpt:

Critics say it is unlikely that banning foreign surrogacy clients will protect poor Indian women or end the practice. For one thing, surrogacy remains legal for heterosexual Indian couples. For another, transnational surrogacy is notorious for its elaborate work-arounds. When the Indian home ministry abruptly banned gay foreign surrogacy clients in 2012, Indian fertility clinics shipped Indian surrogates across the border to Nepal. When Nepal also banned transnational surrogacy in 2015, as did Thailand, industry insiders told me they believed that Indian surrogates were being rerouted to African countries instead. They also said that the ban will merely drive the practice underground.

Read the full article >

Article: As China’s One-Child Policy Ends, Surrogacy Services Rise in the U.S.

As China’s One-Child Policy Ends, Surrogacy Services Rise in the U.S.
By Kevin Smith | San Gabriel Valley Tribune | April 30, 2016

China’s reversal of its one-child policy has, according to this article, resulted in a rise in requests for gestational surrogacy in the United States. Featuring interviews with clinics and other go-betweens in California – including The Fertility Institutes in Encino – it attributes this “new wave of business” to a Chinese preference for boys (gender selection) and the possibility of citizenship for children birthed by gestational mothers in the United States.

The piece also covers some aspects of surrogacy-related law in California. This includes:

  • Required independent counsel for intended parents and gestational mothers.
  • Compliance with contract terms related to communication about medical visits, as well as dietary and travel restrictions.
  • Payments and benefits packages.  

Read the full article >

For more information on surrogacy laws in the U.S., read Tamar Lewin’s breakdown by state in The New York Times.

Article: Israel Evacuates Surrogate Babies From Nepal but Leaves the Mothers Behind

Israel Evacuates Surrogate Babies From Nepal but Leaves the Mothers Behind
By Debra Kamin | Time | April 28, 2015

This article follows the surrogacy relationship between Israel and Nepal, with a focus on Nepal after the 2015 earthquake. It describes the Israeli government’s evacuation of (Israeli) intended parents and their children, as well as resulting international criticism at leaving behind the gestational mothers that gave birth to the newborns.

The article also questions current law in Israel, which only allows heterosexual couples to use surrogacy in the country.

Read the full article >

For more, listen to “Birthstory,” a podcast about a gay couple from Israel that were in Nepal to pick up their surrogacy-delivered children when the earthquake hit.

 

Book: Politics of the Womb: The Perils of IVF, Surrogacy and Modified Babies

Politics of the Womb: The Perils of IVF, Surrogacy and Modified Babies
By Pinki Virani | Penguin | 2016
Buy at Amazon >

 

screen-shot-2016-10-25-at-11-53-42-amFrom the book description:

How safe is aggressive Ivf, invasive Icsi, exploitative ovarian hyper-stimulation and commercial surrogacy? Politics of the Womb proves that there can be broken babies and breaking mothers; it rips away the romanticism around uterus transplants, warns of genetic theft and designer babies , and points to the human element being sacrificed, as artificial reproduction uses, reuses and recycles the woman. Pinki Virani combines investigation with analysis to question those who lead the worldwide onslaught on the woman s womb in the name of babies, and squarely confronts what has become the business of baby-making by a chain of suppliers that manufactures on demand.

Read reviews of the book by Abantika Ghosh at The Indian Express,

From the review:

The book is infused with dollops of feminism, some rudimentary anatomy, physiology and a lot of search results for IVF research posing as factual analysis of the baby-making industry, when the conclusions the book arrives at appear to have been decided way before the first line was typed.

Podcast: Birthstory

Birthstory
By Molly Webster | Radiolab, WNYC Studios | Nov. 22, 2015

Birthstory is a collaboration with the radio show and podcast Israel Story, It traces the journey of a gay couple from Israel that travel to Nepal to pick up their surrogacy-delivered children. While there, Nepal is hit by a devastating earthquake, resulting in the controversial decision by the Israeli government to evacuate its citizens – and their children – but leave behind the gestational mothers. The story follows the couple home, their efforts to contact the (two) gestational mothers, and their reactions on hearing how the women have been treated by the agency in between.

Listen to the full podcast >

Article: Should Young Women Sell Their Eggs?

Should Young Women Sell Their Eggs?
By Donna De La Cruz | The New York Times | Oct. 20, 2016

screen-shot-2016-10-26-at-10-04-30-amPart of a series to help readers “navigate life’s opportunities and challenges,” this article starts with a reference to Justin Griffin and her experience as an egg provider. It provides information on the health risks and links to a number of other useful resources – including the New York State Department of Health website, which covers the egg retrieval process and outcomes in detail, and community based group We Are Egg Donors, which provides spaces for egg providers to connect and act around their experiences.

Read the full article >

An additional resource is the Dartmouth, N.H.-based Infertility Family Research Registry. This is a voluntary registry set up to understand the health and well being of individuals and families created by ARTs – and all egg providers are invited to participate.

Book: Being and Being Bought

Being and Being Bought: Prostitution, Surrogacy and the Split Self
by Kajsa Ekis Ekman | Spinifex Press, 2014
Buy at Amazon >

From the publisher:

Grounded in the reality of the violence and abuse inherent in prostitution—and reeling from the death of a friend to prostitution in Spain—Kajsa Ekis Ekman exposes the many lies in the ‘sex work’ scenario. Trade unions aren’t trade unions. Groups for prostituted women are simultaneously groups for brothel owners. And prostitution is always presented from a woman’s point of view. The men who buy sex are left out.

Drawing on Marxist and feminist analyses, Ekis Ekman argues that the Self must be split from the body to make it possible to sell your body without selling yourself. The body becomes sex. Sex becomes a service. The story of the sex worker says: the Split Self is not only possible, it is the ideal.

Turning to the practice of surrogate motherhood, Kajsa Ekis Ekman identifies the same components: that the woman is neither connected to her own body nor to the child she grows in her body and gives birth to. Surrogacy becomes an extended form of prostitution. In this capitalist creation story, the parent is the one who pays. The product sold is not sex but a baby. Ekis Ekman asks: why should this not be called child trafficking?

This brilliant exposé is written with a razor-sharp intellect and disarming wit and will make us look at prostitution and surrogacy and the parallels between them in a new way.

Talk: The Contemporary Genetic Landscape

The Contemporary Genetic Landscape
Marsha Darling | Tarrytown Meetings | 2010

In a very concrete way, women’s bodies are the gateway to the manipulation of human genes.

In this talk, Marsha Darling, director of the Center for African, Black, and Caribbean Studies at Adelphi University, summarizes some of the core issues and challenges raised by new genetic and reproductive biotechnologies, including their use in surrogacy and paid egg donation.

The Tarrytown Meetings were convened in 2010, 2011, and 2012 to “address challenges raised by profoundly consequential human biotechnologies and related emerging technologies.” Discussion topics at the meetings included sex selection, trait selection, commercial surrogacy, use of women’s eggs for fertility and research, and gamete donor anonymity. The meetings were organized by the Center for Genetics and Society, and held at the Tarrytown House Estate and Conference Center in Tarrytown, N.Y.