POP SUGAR, Why One Woman Wants You to Say No to Surrogacy
By Leah Rocketto
June 30, 2014
When we think of surrogacy, we often think of a woman and a couple coming together to create a new life. We see happy faces and beautiful babies like the twins Sarah Jessica Parker welcomed via surrogate, but Jennifer Lahl says there’s definitely a darker side to the process. In her new film, Breeders, the former pediatric nurse and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network explores a side to surrogacy that we don’t see on TV or read about in the papers. The film features several surrogates speaking about the physical, emotional, and psychological toll that their “good deed” took on them and the child they carried. Their stories, which include abortion, legal battles, and near-death experiences, open viewers’ eyes to the flaws that exist in, what appears to be, a perfect solution to a heartbreaking problem.
“I think I was really trying to point out that [surrogacy] is fraught with problems,” Lahl tells us about the film. “All of the marketing is geared towards happy, smiling couples holding cute, healthy babies, but it’s more than that.”
After viewing Breeders, we can certainly see Lahl’s side of things. Here, five main messages Lahl wants viewers to take away from the film.
1. The Health Risks Are High
Doctors often implant multiple embryos into surrogates in order to improve the chance of a pregnancy. Too often, however, this results in the surrogate becoming pregnant with multiple babies at once. While many see this as a blessing, being pregnant with multiples puts women at risk for several conditions such as high blood pressure, anemia, hemorrhaging, and preeclampsia. Lahl adds that it also makes the delivery more difficult.
“These women end up in the hospital early, trying to keep the babies in the womb longer,” she says. “The babies are then born premature and have to stay in the hospital longer.”
2. Low-Income Women Lose
Some women may become surrogates out of the goodness of their heart, but Lahl says the driving force behind most of their decision comes down to the dollar.
“It’s low-income women that are more incentivized to do this,” Lahl says. “You’re not going to hear wealthy women say, ‘I’ll be a surrogate and carry a baby for nine months.'”
Many of the surrogates featured in Breeders are in situations where they need the extra income but are unable to work because they have to take care of their own children. By becoming surrogates, they are able to make $15,000 to $25,000 a year — not including medical costs — without sacrificing their role as mothers.
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