Surrogacy on TV

by Matthew Eppinette, Director of Programs on May 3, 2018

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The software that runs our website this morning alerted me that an article from the website xtremetechnews.tech had published an article that linked to our issue page on Surrogacy. So of course I clicked through to read the article entitled “‘Roseanne,’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Superstore,’ and more Take Baby Steps to Examine Surrogacy on TV.”

It is an interesting—and spoiler-filled—look at a number of current television shows that are exploring the topic of surrogacy. The author looks at several television shows, raising some of the ethical issues that accompany surrogacy, and exploring ways in which those concerns are evident in the various shows.

For example, on the exploitation of women:

Over on Sundance TV’s “Top of the Lake: China Girl,” . . . detective character Robin investigates a case that leads to discovering sex workers who are exploited and acting as illegal surrogates to wealthy Australian couples. Set in contemporary times, the story is a reflection of what is currently happening in the world today.

And on the lack of consideration given to the need of the children born through surrogacy and other third-party reproduction arrangements:

While the focus has been on the parents and the surrogate, another life is also involved in the process: the child. Since they are minors, they may not have the rights afforded those senior to them. But what happens when they’re older?

. . .

So far, most scripted shows haven’t tapped into this aspect yet since most of the surrogacy stories focus on the adults through the process of birth, after which the surrogate bows out of the child’s life.

The thing that stunned me as I read the article, though, was that in spite of this, the author still manages to call surrogacy “something that is ultimately selfless.”

This is the same mindset that argues for the legal recognition of surrogacy contracts and some level of regulation to oversee the industry. But as we have shown again and again and again, it is simply not possible to legislate or regulate away the harms of surrogacy.

It. Is. Not. Possible.

I won’t rehash the arguments here. Instead, let me point you to a number of resources that will allow you to explore the topic. Perhaps the best place to start is on the very page the article links to, our surrogacy issue overview. On that page you can read “3 Things You Should Know About Surrogacy,” “Telling the Truth about Surrogacy in the United States,” and “3 Things You Should Know About Third Party Assisted Reproduction.” You can watch the trailer for our documentary Breeders: A Subclass of Women? (now available on AmazonPrime). And there are many, many other resources there.

Also be sure to check out the resources available at our #StopSurrogacyNow campaign website. These include a number of articles, a list of and links to studies on surrogacy, trailers for and links to several documentary films and news reports on surrogacy, and, of course, the #StopSurrogacyNow Statement (available in eight languages) that spells out succinctly why all surrogacy should be opposed and stopped.

As I say, “‘Roseanne,’ ‘Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Superstore,’ and more Take Baby Steps to Examine Surrogacy on TV” is an interesting article. But as surrogacy is portrayed more and more on TV, in popular culture, and in celebrity culture, it’s important that we think deeply about the true reality of the situations such shows are holding up for view.  

Image by Senor Velasco via flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

 

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