By Meg T. McDonnell, Communications Director at Women Speak For Themselves
We can do better for women and children—this is what I kept thinking while I watched the documentary Breeders.
Breeders, breaks open the issue of surrogacy by revealing what shiny, happy surrogacy ads fail to reveal: the real struggles on the part of the surrogate moms, and the kids they bear. The film explores surrogacy from every angle, ethical, legal, medical and psychological. It’s all there.
The film’s strength is its storytelling. The viewer is disinclined to judge and inclined toward compassion after hearing the women speak for themselves. There is the woman who needed the money, but ended up with the short end of the deal both financially and emotionally; the couple for whom she was carrying the baby never provided her the emotional support she needed during difficult pregnancies and miscarriages. There are the women who bonded with the babies they carried, only to grieve when they had little to no contact with them child after birth.
The ability to create and carry life is a wondrous thing. “I’m very sympathetic to people that can’t have children,” Jennifer Lahl, CBC Network president and Breeders producer, says, “I really appreciate the fact that when people are faced with dealing with infertility, that that’s a[…] loss.” But at “what cost” or “extreme” do we go to satisfy a desire for biological children—especially when other human lives are involved? Are some women mothers and other women breeders? Do we really believe that “buying” children will not have ramifications as they grow and comprehend their place in their families and the world?
These are the questions Breeders invites the viewer to consider. Don’t let the shiny surrogate ads be your only knowledge source on the topic; let women who have had experience with surrogacy speak for themselves. What they have to say is worth thinking about. Attend a screening (coming soon in DC or NYC) or purchase a copy of Breeders.
Meg T. McDonnell is the communications director of Women Speak For Themselves.