Venus Rising Podcast

Venus Rising is a podcast welcoming you into our living room for chats about all things fertility, infertility and women’s reproductive health.

Venus Rising is currently available on Spotify, iTunes, Google Play, and Podomatic.

We have incredible educational guests lined up for you, like the influential Gary Powell; Taina Bien-Amie, Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women; and Dr. Diane Tober, Medical Anthropologist and author. We will also be welcoming back some of our most influential surrogates and donor conceived persons to share their first-hand experiences as not only donors but the result of someone’s choice to donate. Our goal is as ever – to create conversation, facilitate discussion and encourage you to think beyond the masses.

Podcast #23: Barry Stevens (November 18, 2020)

This episode is for all of our film buffs out there! Today Jennifer interviews Barry Stevens, a Toronto documentary filmmaker and screenwriter. Barry won a drama Gemini award for The Diary of Evelyn Lau starring Sandra Oh in her first role, then switched to non-fiction, as a writer on the International Emmy-winning documentary, Gerrie and Louise

One of our favorite of Barry’s films, Offspringis a detective story where Barry searches for his sperm donor. It was viewed in 61 countries, won a number of awards, and was nominated for an Emmy! For five years, he directed the acclaimed and CSA-winning series for History TV, War Story. His most recent film is The World’s Biggest Family, a movie addressing the problems with anonymous sperm donation.

Barry is active in the donor-conceived communities, hoping to change laws regarding anonymity. Our paths first collided when Jennifer interviewed him for her film Anonymous Father’s Day. Today, Venus Rising sits down with Barry for another, more personal, intellectual and enlightening conversation around his films, sperm donation, and the donor conceived family. Grab some popcorn and enjoy!

Podcast #22: Karen Hoffman (November 4, 2020)

Today Jennifer brings her dear friend, Karen Hoffman, on Venus Rising to talk about her very personal journey with infertility. Karen has an international background, having lived and worked on three continents. She was born and raised in South Africa, where she earned her Bachelor’s degree University of Pretoria. Subsequently, Karen moved to London, where her infertility journey began, followed by her relocation to the San Francisco Bay Area in 2014.

Karen now provides real estate solutions to local as well as international clientele.  She is also the director of the San Mateo, California chapter of Polka Dot Powerhouse, an international networking organization for women. If you have a friend that is childless or struggling with infertility, we hope you find Karen’s intimate story enlightening. If you and your partner are struggling with infertility, we see you and we feel with you. As women, we often find our value in our ability to conceive children, but Karen shows us that life and family are possible beyond infertility. 

Podcast #21: Dr. Naomi Whittaker (October 22, 2020)

Are you struggling with infertility or gynecological issues such as PCOS or endometriosis? Do you feel like typical infertility treatments are failing women and couples? Are you interested in freezing your eggs? Are you in the medical field or just interested in women’s reproductive health? If so, today’s episode is especially for you! Today we meet with Dr. Naomi Whittaker, a brilliant physician focused on women’s restorative reproductive medicine, compassionate healthcare, and education. 

Dr. Whittaker is a board certified OBGYN and a fellowship trained fertility surgeon who specializes in the Creighton Model FertilityCare System and NaProTechnology, which works cooperatively with a woman’s body to treat the underlying cause of gynecologic issues and infertility. Dr. Whittaker helps women improve their gynecologic health, and avoid/achieve pregnancy in accordance with their natural fertility using the latest research, medicine, and surgery!

Dr. Whittaker earned her medical degree at Creighton University School of Medicine and completed her residency in OB/GYN at OSF Hospital in Peoria, IL. Dr. Whittaker is currently practices in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Women deserve better when it comes to fertility treatment. As one of Dr. Whittaker’s Instagram post exclaims, “Stop telling couples all roads lead to IVF.”  We agree. You can follow Dr. Whittaker on Instagram @napro_fertility_surgeon. 

Podcast #20: MaryLou Singleton (October 8, 2020)

2020 has been deemed the “year of the nurse and the midwife.” For this reason, we couldn’t let 2020 come to an end without interviewing midwife and family nurse practitioner, MaryLou Singleton. 

MaryLou has practiced as a midwife for over 20 years, attending over 1000 planned homebirths in the Albuquerque area. She now runs an independent clinic, Enchanted Family Medicine, where she provides womb-to-tomb primary care for families wanting to make informed, autonomous health choices. MaryLou has sat on the board of directors for the Midwives Alliance of North America, the National Association of Certified Professional Midwives, and the Women’s Liberation Front. MaryLou is a life-long advocate for the rights of women and children, and we are honored that she chose to join us on Venus Rising.

Podcast #019: Alicia Gruber (September 24, 2020)

Welcome back to Season 2 of Venus Rising! This season is full of special guests and personal stories you won’t want to miss, so subscribe today! Today, Jennifer talks with Alicia Gruber. Alicia, a mom of two and military wife, has experience as a surrogate mother and also runs multiple surrogacy support groups.

As you know, Venus Rising exists to help educate the masses, even when speaking to those who hold opposing views like Alicia’s. Alicia’s goal is to help educate and support people who are considering being a surrogate. Educating women is where our two paths cross and we hope you enjoy this interesting discussion. You can follow Alicia on IG @gruberalicia.  

Podcast #018: Dr. Jennifer Schneider (May 21, 2020)

Jennifer Schneider, M.D., Ph.D., is a physician certified in Internal Medicine, Addiction Medicine and Pain Management. She is the author of 15 books and has published numerous articles in professional journals.

Not only is Jennifer impressive academically, but she is also a loving mother. This is the intersection where the CBC and Dr. Schneider meets. Jennifer’s daughter, Jessica, is featured in our film EggsploitationJessica tragically passed away just before her 32nd birthday from colon cancer.

As a student at Stanford and Columbia, Jessica was persuaded to donate her eggs on three separate occasions. Now, Dr. Schneider worries about the welfare of other women who are egg donors. The fertility drugs used during Jessica’s egg donation cycles could have contributed to her cancer and early passing. Join us today as we talk with Dr. Schneider about her daughter’s legacy as well as her own work in exposing the lack of research on the long-term risks for egg donors. Like Dr. Schneider, we are concerned that there are many more women who have donated eggs and have suffered from an early cancer diagnosis.

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Podcast #017: The Free Birth Society & Jennifer Lahl (April 30, 2020)

Today on Venus Rising we turn the spotlight to one of our own, Jennifer Lahl. A few weeks ago, the wonderful women at The Free Birth Society invited Jennifer to speak on an episode of their show, The Free Birth Podcast.

Jennifer sat down with Emilee Saldaya to discuss several different topics including the launch of the CBC, the deeply concerning language in surrogacy contracts, and the challenges she has faced as she tries to protect women. Emilee faced her own criticism when she put together a three-part series on surrogacy and she opens up about that as well. We are grateful for the generosity of the Free Birth Society in allowing us to bring this episode to our listeners at Venus Rising.

You can find each episode of the three part surrogacy series here:

Podcast #016: Venus Rising With Julie Bindel (April 16, 2020)

As you shelter in place or quarantine yourself from friends and family, allow us to bring author and activist, Julie Bindel, into your living room for a powerful and inspiring discussion about her life’s work and passion. 

Since she was just 17 years old, Julie has been active in the global campaign to end violence towards women and children. She has authored over 30 book chapters and reports on a range of topics relating violence and abuse of women and girls.  She writes regularly for The Guardian newspaper, the New Statesman, Truthdig, Sunday Telegraph,and Standpoint magazines, and appears frequently on the BBC and Sky News.

Julie is a co-founder of Justice for Women, an organization that supports and advocates on behalf of women who have fought back against violent men. Julie is also an original signer of the nternational StopSurrogacyNow campaign

Join us today to find out what triggered Julie’s lifelong mission to end violence toward women and girls. Find out what gets her out of bed in the morning and keeps her up at night.  Unite with us all as we fight to end the exploitation of women and girls.  

Podcast #015: I’m Transgender, and I Oppose the Medical Transition of Children (April 2, 2020)

Our guest today on Venus Rising is Scott Newgent.  At the age of 43, Scott made the decision to medically transition from female to male. In 2017, Scott underwent phalloplasty which led to a massive pulmonary embolism. Scott nearly died of an infection which lasted 17 months.

During recovery, Scott spent hours reading about transgender health, only to discover how little was known about the physical and psychological risks, as well as how woefully unregulated this area of medicine is for transgender people. Most shocking was the medical and pharmaceutical industry’s agenda to push children to transition. 

As a parent, Scott works tirelessly at the state legislative level assisting lawmakers to write laws that will protect children from being allowed to medically transition and most recently was involved in legislation in the State of Idaho that has passed that will not allow biological males to participate in school sports designated for biological females. 

Scott says, “I can’t be called transphobic, I am transgender, but medically transitioning children is criminal. There is nothing to debate. It’s wrong on every level.”

Follow Scott on Facebook. Twitter and on the web.

Podcast #014: A Feminist Approach to Third Party Reproduction (March 19)

If you’re a book worm, an aspiring writer, a feminist, or any combination, then this two-for-one episode is for you! Today we have the privilege of speaking with two radically brilliant women in one 45-minute episode. Susan Hawthorne and Renate Klein join Jennifer to talk about their journey creating and running an award-winning independent feminist press. 

Spinifex Press, founded in 1991, is an independent feminist book publisher, based in Australia, that publishes innovative and controversial feminist books with an optimistic edge. 

Renate Klein, Ph.D., is a biologist and social scientist and long-term women’s health researcher and has written extensively on reproductive technologies and feminist theory over the last thirty years. She was Associate Professor in Women’s Studies at Deakin University in Melbourne and co-founder of FINRRAGE (Feminist International Network of Resistance to Reproductive and Genetic Engineering) and an original signatory to Stop Surrogacy Now.

Susan Hawthorne has her Ph.D., in Women’s Studies and Political Science from the University of Melbourne. Hawthorne’s award-winning writing includes poetry, fiction and non-fiction books. Her novel The Falling Woman was selected as one of The Australian’s Year’s Best Books (1992) and a Top Twenty Title in the Listener Women’s Book Festival. In 2015 she received the George Robertson Award for her services to the publishing industry. 

We really hope you enjoy this interview from Down Under!

Podcast #013: “I’m a Gestational Surrogate.” (March 5)

On Venus Rising, we talk a lot about surrogacy, but we haven’t brought you a real, honest interview with a woman who’s currently living the life of a surrogate. All of that changes today.

‘Lynn,’ whose name has been changed to protect her identity, sits down with Jennifer for an authentic discussion about her ongoing experience as a commercial gestational surrogate. What started as a desire to help others has morphed into an experience that has risked her health and left her with worry.

We share her story because we know the risks, we know the dangers, and we know that many more Lynns exist. We want to give them all a voice and an opportunity to share their stories.

UPDATE: Since recording this episode, Lynn has had an anatomy scan which showed the baby is on track at 20 weeks. When she is 35 weeks into the pregnancy, she will move five hours away from home to deliver in a larger and better equipped hospital.

Podcast #012: Caitlin Roper (Feb. 20)

Today on Venus Rising, Jennifer speaks with a Ph.D. candidate who is researching female body sex dolls and robots, specifically, how men conceptualize these products and the implications of this kind of technology for women. Allow us to introduce you to a very influential activist and writer, Ms. Caitlin Roper.

Ms. Roper is also very active in campaigning against the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Caitlin is the campaign manager for Collective Shout, she serves on the committee of Reclaim the Night, and is a founding member and chair of Adopt Nordic Western Australian Project. You can find her writings on ABC, The Guardian, Huffington Post, and The Sydney Morning Herald.

On this episode of Venus Rising, Caitlin speaks about her research, shares the current victories and future challenges at Collective Shout, and illuminates the parallels between pornography (the commercializing of sexuality) and surrogacy (the commercializing of reproduction).
We hope you allow her to inspire and empower you to begin speaking out against the exploitation of women and girls! You can find out more about Collective Shout and support their work here.

Podcast #011: Nick Isel (Feb. 7)

We are overjoyed to finally introduce Nick Isel as our next guest on Venus Rising. At age 15, Nick learned that he and his sister were donor-conceived. Nick is one of 215 babies known infamously as “Nobel babies,” who are products of eugenicist Robert Graham’s Repository for Germinal Choice, a California-based sperm bank known as “The Nobel Bank”, claiming to only accept “genius” sperm specimens.

Nick was featured prominently in the book Genius Factory as a teenager under the pseudonym “Tom Legare.”  The author “David Plotz” interviewed him about his experiences growing up as a progeny of the Repository for Germinal Choice. Nick has also been featured in Esquire Magazine, NPR Snap Judgement, This is Life with Lisa Ling, and a short documentary titled The Need to Know.   

Importantly, Nick is now an advocate for the rights of the donor-conceived community and recently filed a citizen’s petition to the US FDA regarding ending donor anonymity for sperm/egg donation establishments and increasing regulations and oversight. Specifically, Nick, wants donor-conceived children to have access to medical information, including information about plausible genetic diseases. This petition is still under review and is available for your comment here.

Today we get a unique opportunity to talk candidly with Nick about his advocacy work and this important petition he authored.  

Podcast #010: Alison Motluk (Jan. 17)

Today we travel to Canada to speak with Alison Motluk, a Toronto-based journalist with a special interest in reproductive technology.  

Alison writes on a broad category of topics and issues, but today we talk to her about third-party reproduction and the changes in Canada’s Human Reproduction Act. Alison has written in publications such as New Scientist, The Economist and the Globe and Mail. Alison also has a weekly email newsletter called HeyReprotech. You can sign up for her newsletter here.

Podcast #009: Crystal Schnurr (Jan. 3)

For the first time, Jennifer sits down with Crystal Schnurr, a woman who decided to freeze her own eggs for later use. Please join us as Crystal opens up with Venus Rising and tells us about her journey of freezing her own eggs.

Podcast #008: Life As A Donor Conceived Human (Dec. 20)

Join us for a brand new episode of Venus Rising as Matt Doran bravely shares with us his very personal story of growing up and finding out that he was a ‘donor’ conceived human being. Matt is both an aerospace mechanical engineer as well as an advocate against donor conception. Matt created and founded the first free worldwide social network for ‘donor’ conceived people, sperm/egg/embryo/surrogate ‘donors’, and social parents of ‘donor’ conceived people. His mission is to help connect biological families and offer support to other ‘donor’ conceived people so that they can create a demographic body that will create legislative change. You can find more about his foundation at DonorChildren.com

Podcast #007: Kallie Fell (Dec. 6)

Join us for a brand new episode of Venus Rising as Kallie Fell returns as our guest to discuss her work and involvement at the Center for Bioethics and Culture.  As you may know from her first guest appearance, Kallie started her professional career as a research assistant at the Women’s Reproductive Health Research Center at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. Kallie has since switched careers, but is still very passionate about women’s health. She currently works as a labor and delivery nurse in the Bay Area. At the CBC, Kallie does important work reading, researching, interpreting, and analyzing new articles and studies pertaining to third party reproduction. 

Podcast #006: Wesley J. Smith (Nov. 15)

On this episode of Venus Rising as Jennifer Lahl has the privilege to sit down with lawyer and award-winning author, Wesley J. Smith, to discuss egg harvesting, gene-editing, artificial wombs and more!

Wesley Smith has authored or co-authored 14 books and hundreds of articles or opinion columns on bioethics issues and the importance of being human (human exceptionalism). His writing has appeared nationally and internationally in Newsweek, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Forbes, National Review, The Age (Australia), The Telegraph (United Kingdom), and the American Journal of Bioethics. He has made guest appearances on national programs such as Good Morning America and Nightline, as well as internationally on BBC Radio 4.  

We are thrilled that Mr. Smith decided to join us on Venus Rising, and we hope that you at home enjoy this episode.  

Podcast #005: Diane Tober (Oct. 31)

Today we speak with cultural and medical anthropologist, Diane Tober. Dr. Tober is an Assistant Adjunct Professor at the University of California, San Francisco Institute for Health and Aging and faculty at the Bixby Center for Reproductive Health. Her work and research is focused on gender and sexuality, the commodification of the body, science and technology studies, bioethics, and social and reproductive justice. With funding from the National Science Foundation, she is, and has been, comparing egg donation in the United States and Spain. She has conducted field research in Iran, Spain, and the United States. Join us as we sit down with Dr. Tober to discuss her research exploring egg donors’ decisions and experiences within the global market for human eggs. 

To find out more about Dr. Tober, her research, or her new book Romancing the Sperm: Shifting Biopolitics and the Making of Modern Families please visit her website: http://dianetober.com

Podcast #004: Kallie Fell (Oct. 18)

On this episode of Venus Rising, we sit down with our own Kallie Fell, a Bay Area labor and delivery nurse, to discuss the very basics of women’s reproductive physiology. Before she was a nurse, Kallie was a scientist in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt University utilizing a M.S. degree in Reproductive Physiology from Purdue University. While assisting in the investigation of endometriosis and pre-term birth, she decided that she wanted to interact more with women in a clinical role and went back to school to become a registered nurse. In this episode, we catch a glimpse of how passionate Kallie is for women’s health education.

Podcast #003: Gary Powell

Today we travel across the pond to talk to England’s own, Gary Powell. Gary is a LGBT activist, public administration campaigner, and an original signer of the Stop Surrogacy Now statement. Gary was tutored in Philosophy by the Rt Hon Baroness Mary Warnock, a specialist in reproductive ethics whose inquiry led to the UK Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act 1990. Join us as we find out why, as a gay man, Gary opposes surrogacy.

Podcast #002: Taina Bien-Aimé

Our guest today is Taina Bien-Aimé, who is the Executive Director of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women. She was a founding member of Equality Now. Ms. Bien-Aimé has dedicated her career to end violence and discrimination against women and girls around the world. On this episode she discusses with Jennifer Lahl, her organization’s work to stop a bill, The Child-Parent Security Act, which would legalize commercial surrogacy in New York State.

Podcast #001: Welcome to Venus Rising!

We are jump starting this year with an eye-opening and powerful interview about freezing eggs and egg banking.