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, 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 #41: Dr. Joyce Harper (November 7, 2021)

Today on Venus Rising Kallie sits down with reproductive science research expert, author, academic and educator Joyce Harper, BSc, PhD. Currently Dr. Harper is Professor of Reproductive Science at University College London in the Institute for Women’s Health where she is Head of the Reproductive Science and Society Group. She is a Director of the Embryology and PGD Academy and founder of Global Women Connected. 
Dr. Harper has over 33 years of experience in the fields of fertility, genetics and reproductive science. In fact, she was finishing her PhD just nine years after Louise Brown was born! She has written over 200 scientific papers and published three books, her latest titled Your Fertile Years, What You Need to Know to Make Informed Choices. Dr. Harper started her career as an embryologist, then moved into reproductive science and genetics, now she is researching fertility education, FemTech, and the social aspects of infertility treatment including donation and IVF add-ons. This is truly an episode you won’t want to miss! It’s not every day that you get to hear from a woman as passionate and knowledgeable as Dr. Harper on topics like women’s fertility, women’s health education, IVF and the marketing of IVF add-ons such as preimplantation genetic testing.  
Find out more about Dr. Joyce Harper at
Follow her on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – @ProfJoyceHarper
Read more about Global Women Connected:

Podcast #41: Jennifer Block (November 3, 2021)

Today we have award winning independent journalist and author Jennifer Block on the show. We will be talking with Jennifer about her work including her newest book,  Everything Below The Waist: Why Health Care Needs a Feminist Revolution (St. Martin’s Press).

You might have read her work in The BMJ, New York Times, Romper, Washington Post Magazine, The Baffler, and many other publications. Her first book, Pushed, led a wave of attention to the national crisis in maternity care and was named a “Best Book of 2007” by Kirkus Reviews. A reporter with Type Investigations, Block won several awards for her investigative reporting on the permanent contraceptive implant Essure, which has since been discontinued.  

You can find Jennifer and her work at or on Twitter @wrtitingblock. 

Podcast #40: Donovan Cleckley (October 20, 2021)

This week Kallie sits down with a young freelance writer and literary scholar, Donovan Cleckley. 

Donovan holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Interdisciplinary Studies from the University of Montevallo and a Master of Arts in English from Tulane University. His research focuses on the relationship between women’s rights and gay rights, literature and sexual politics, and the social and political implications of transgenderism as an ideology, an industry, and an institution. 

Today, Kallie talks with Donovan about the crossroads of his research and passion and the debate concerning the medical transitioning of children, which we also explore in our recent documentary Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender?

You can learn more about his work at or join him in discussion by following him on Twitter.

Podcast #39: Jasmine Esmay (October 6, 2021)

Welcome back to Venus Rising. Today’s guest is Jasmine Esmay, a Registered Nurse Certified in Inpatient Obstetrics with over 20 years of frontline healthcare experience. Jasmine is also a Certified Lactation Counselor and an Internationally Board Certified Lactation Consultant. 

Jasmine believes that lifelong health and strong family relationships start with pregnancy and birth. Families today face almost insurmountable struggles when it comes to navigating the healthcare system, juggling the demands of a new baby with no paid parental leave, and the lack of postpartum and breastfeeding support. These struggles show in maternal and infant mortality rates, infant feeding outcomes, and increasing rates of postpartum depression. All things we discuss on today’s episode.

Jasmine currently works to change birth culture by offering continuing education to healthcare providers through her consulting business “Tongass Lactation Consulting, LLC” and serving on the United States Lactation Association Advisory Board. She is the current President of The Alaska Breastfeeding Coalition. Join us as Kallie chats with Jasmine about the current state of maternal fetal healthcare and what can be done to help women and families succeed in a time where we clearly are failing women. 

Find Jasmine at Find more about Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, whose work is referenced in the podcast, at

Podcast #38: Toni Bare (September 21, 2021)

On today’s episode of Venus Rising, Kallie sits down with the fearless advocate, Toni Bare.

In 2016 Toni agreed to be a gestational surrogate for a couple with hopes that she would make enough money to pay for her own fertility treatment. Toni’s experience as a surrogate mother was so horrific  and harmful she has committed to publicly speaking out against surrogacy. Toni’s story is complex and painful, full of abuse, injustice, and personal trauma. We admire her strength as she shares it with us today. 

You can read more about Toni’s story here.  Join Toni by signing the Stop Surrogacy Now petition.

Podcast #37: Alyssa Wood, Part 2 (September 8, 2021)

Hello and welcome back to Venus Rising Season THREE, now available on SpotifyiTunes, and Podomatic.

We have so many wonderful guests lined up for this season. Before introducing someone new, we decided to kick-off season three with someone you met last season, Alyssia Wood. Kallie spoke with Alyssia about her experience as a surrogate mother, but only touched the tip of the iceberg on that first episode. 

Today Kallie talks more in-depth about Alyssia’s experience as a surrogate mother and really focuses on her last pregnancy as a surrogate mother and what has transpired since the birth of that child and our last time speaking with Alyssia. Thank you for joining us! 

Podcast #36: Brynne (June 23, 2021)

Welcome back to this season’s final episode of Venus Rising now available on SpotifyiTunes, and Podomatic. Today Kallie has a candid and informative talk with Brynne, one of the brave mothers featured in our newly released documentary “Trans Mission: What’s the Rush to Reassign Gender?”

At age 13, Brynne’s daughter began suffering from “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria” (ROGD), a poorly understood phenomenon currently affecting hundreds of thousands of girls worldwide. ROGD is characterized by a sudden and severe rejection of a person’s biological sex and corresponding body parts in favor of an identity aligning with the opposite sex.

Brynne realized early on that the “experts” proposed solutions to her daughter’s dysphoria all seemed to lead down a pathway of puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones with potentially irreversible consequences, and she worried her daughter might later regret these changes. She was surprised to discover that any questioning of this medical pathway is routinely met with hostility and aggression, so she stands bravely in the gap for parents and their children, insisting on asking important questions that are often forbidden discourse.

Brynne advocates for radical self-acceptance of peoples’ whole healthy bodies, diverse personality expressions, and the elimination of harmful gender stereotypes. She works with nonprofits that seek to raise funds for public education in regards to the harms and abuse trans-identifying people and their families suffer in the medical and mental health community. If you have questions for Brynne, you can reach her via email at

Podcast #35: Alyssia Wood (June 2, 2021)

Welcome back to Venus Rising, now available on SpotifyiTunes, and Podomatic. Today I have the pleasure of sitting down with four-time surrogate mother, Alyssia Wood.  Having wonderful pregnancy experiences with each of her four children, Alyssia felt that surrogacy was an obvious way for her to help others start or build their own families. She is here today to talk about her different experiences as a surrogate mother, which included two miscarriages,  two premature deliveries, hyperemesis gravidarum, sepsis, a near hysterectomy, and a host of unexpected challenges she now encourages prospective surrogates to thoroughly research before signing a surrogacy contract.

We are so grateful for Alyssia’s willingness to candidly discuss her experiences with us so that other women can make informed choices about their reproductive options. Much has changed since we first recorded this episode with Alyssia. Be sure to subscribe to Venus Rising to learn more about Alyssia’s surrogacy related health complications.

Podcast #34: Kelly Wilson (May 19, 2021)

Welcome back to Venus Rising. If you are an aspiring labor and delivery nurse or nurse midwife or have ever wanted to chat with a nurse that works at an IVF clinic then today’s show is just for you. I am especially excited about this episode because I get to sit down with nursing colleague, Kelly Wilson. I had the opportunity of meeting and working with Kelly when I was fresh out of nursing school, several years ago. Kelly has been a nurse since 2010 and joined the ranks of labor and delivery nurses in 2013. In 2019 she started working as a fertility nurse while she pursues her degree in nurse midwifery. Kelly has finished her clinical training and is excitedly graduating very soon! She lives in Ohio with her husband and two adorable sons. 

Podcast #33: Dr. Susan Caldwell (May 5, 2021)

Hello and welcome back to Venus Rising. With me today is Dr. Susan Caldwell, a primary care physician specializing in women’s health practicing in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Today we tackle an emotionally sensitive topic, especially as we approach Mother’s Day- infertility and IVF.  Dr. Caldwell has three children of her own, all of whom were conceived through IVF. Today she explains why, in retrospect, she would not recommend IVF as a solution to infertility and why, in her expert opinion, naprotechnology is a much better pathway for couples struggling to conceive. Dr. Caldwell is able to navigate this difficult subject through a lens of both empathy and immense knowledge. Her insight is invaluable to the broader conversation.

Dr. Caldwell received her medical degree from Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center where she also completed her residency in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics.  In 2016 she became a Certified Naprotechnology Medical Consultant.  She enjoys writing and speaking about authentic femininity and reproductive health that upholds the dignity of all human life.  She blogs about topics in women’s health at

Podcast #32: Kylee (April 13, 2021)

Welcome back to Venus Rising! One of the main commodities in the ever-growing infertility industry is human eggs. Young women all over the world are targeted by ads to “donate” their eggs. Who are these women and what are the risks to their health? 
In this episode I have the opportunity to talk with Kylee Kwiatkowski about her harrowing story of egg “donation” and the aftermath that followed this life-altering decision. If you are considering “donating” your eggs or are dealing with health effects after egg “donation”, this is an episode you won’t want to miss! 

 You can read about her story online here.  Kylee was also featured in our award-winning documentary Eggsploitation. You can watch it for free on Amazon Prime.

Podcast #31: Liz Scheier (March 30, 2021)

In the early 2000s, Liz Scheier’s mom was facing eviction, so Liz, like many young women, turned to egg donation to raise funds to escape financial crisis. Over the next several years, Liz underwent a total of three rounds of egg retrieval. 

In the years since, Liz has spent a significant amount of time analyzing the situation and asking important ethical questions related to it. She sits on the leadership team of We Are Egg Donors (WAED), a volunteer-run global support network for over 2,000 current and former egg donors across the world. WAED is regularly featured in media outlets including The New York Times, The Atlantic, NBC, WIRED, and others. As media liaison for WAED, Liz speaks frequently with journalists about the experiences of egg donors, the ethical issues involved in anonymous gamete donation, and the urgent need for a long-term longitudinal study of the effects of egg donation on women’s health.    

She is an author, editor, and product developer living in Washington, DC with her husband and two children, and we are honored to have her joining us on Venus Rising today.

Podcast #30: Wendy Kramer (March 17, 2021)

Welcome back to an informative new episode of Venus Rising! This week Kallie sits down with Wendy Kramer, Co-Founder and Director of the Donor Sibling Registry (DSR), a network of over 72,000 members worldwide, united by their shared experience as individuals conceived as a result of egg, sperm, or embryo donation and their mutual desire to be connected with others who share their genetic ties.

Wendy launched the DSR in an effort to help bridge some of the ancestral gaps for her own son Ryan, who was conceived via sperm donation. A prolific speaker and writer, Wendy is a tireless advocate for the donor-conceived community and a strong proponent of regulations that prioritize the needs of the children born of third party reproductive arrangements. We are so pleased to have her with us today.

Podcast #29: Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos (March 3, 2021)

You will not want to miss this week’s episode of Venus Rising, as Kallie sits down with award winning author and writer Pamela Mahoney Tsigdinos for a frank discussion on a painful topic: infertility. 

Pamela’s book  Silent Sorority, became the first account of reconciling infertility that was not written by a mother. With raw honesty Pamela drew from her experience to explore the stigma associated with fertility issues and the complex effects of living involuntarily childless.

Through her research and writing, Pamela was introduced to a vibrant community of IVF survivors. Her followup ebook, Finally Heard, gives voice to a large but seldom acknowledged population of women reconciling the trauma of failed fertility treatments. Her writing raises provocative, often uncomfortable questions usually reserved for late night reflection or anonymous blogging.  We are thrilled to have her joining us today on Venus Rising.

Podcast #28: Isabella Malbin (February 17, 2021)

This week on Venus Rising, Kallie sits down with Isabella Malbin, founder of Whose Body Is It?  

Isabella is a self-described radical birth keeper, hypnotist, and radical feminist. In 2020, she was kicked out of a fertility awareness teacher training program for using the words “woman” and “mother,” which were deemed “trans-exclusionary.” Since then, she’s become passionate about illuminating the harms of trans ideology, especially in regard to its impact on women. 

In today’s episode, Kallie and Isabella explore the links between surrogacy, porn, prostitution, and transgenderism and how they all work in tandem to prop up #BigFertility.

In addition to serving pregnant women in her community, she leads an 8-week educational series for women questioning the ethics of trans ideology, prostitution, pornography and surrogacy and runs a private virtual gender-critical community where women connect, conspire & enact change.

Podcast #27: Maggie Eastman (February 4, 2021)

Maggie was a young, bright-eyed college student when she was first recruited as an egg donor. She eagerly signed up to donate her eggs with plans of helping families while earning some money for her future. Instead, she got stage 4 invasive ductal carcinoma, a diagnosis she is certain she acquired as a result of multiple rounds of egg donation. Her painful experience was documented in our 2015 documentary “Maggie’s Story.”

After battling cancer and the completion of chemotherapy, Maggie returned to school to obtain a masters degree in relational counseling, and her focus is working with clients diagnosed with cancer and other illnesses. This June, she will celebrate five years of remission.

Today, we are pleased to welcome Maggie and her parents to Venus Rising as we revisit her story and continue an important conversation about the hidden dangers of the fertility industry.

Podcast #26: Valerie Landis (January 21, 2021)

In today’s culture of echo chambers and censorship, at the CBC, we remain fiercely committed to civil discourse as one of the precious few avenues to true and lasting change. It is in that spirit that we bring you this week’s episode of Venus Rising.

Today, Kallie sits down with Valerie Landis, a fertility representative whose three time personal experience with egg freezing has fueled her passion for educating others about fertility preservation and family planning. Valerie speaks openly about her own experience. She created the educational website and runs the Eggology podcast.  She showcasesher experience in the upcoming video docu-series film called, THIS IS EGG FREEZING.

Though we disagree pretty thoroughly with Valerie on matters like the health risks of egg freezing and the human rights implications for both women and children as they relate to surrogacy and third party reproduction as a whole, we are grateful for her willingness to share her perspective with us in our mutual attempt to bring much needed education in matters too often ignored by the general public.

Podcast #25: Gail Pascoe (January 7, 2021)

Join us as we sit down with Gail Pascoe, an Australian woman who has spent the last six years researching the cash-driven sperm donation industry and the many ways it is failing donor-conceived children. 
Gail’s interest in the subject began when she made what she considers the appalling discovery that her own daughter, conceived with the help of a US based sperm donor, has over 100 siblings. Since that time, Gail has worked tirelessly to shed light on the bioethical issues too many ignore in third party reproductive efforts, especially as they relate to the needs of the children born of these arrangements. Her quest to help others avoid similar pitfalls and achieve healthier outcomes for children has  led her to write a detailed end-to-end guide book, which is in the final stages of completion. 

Podcast #24: Julia Derek (December 3, 2020)

On today’s episode of Venus Rising, Jennifer sits down with Julia Derek, author of “Confessions of a Serial Egg Donor.

When Julia moved from Sweden to New York City as a young adult, she found herself in need of an income source as she waited for her green card. That’s when she discovered egg donation, ultimately undergoing twelve rounds in the span of four years.

In today’s episode, Jennifer speaks with Julia about her experience and why, in retrospect, she’s developed a much more cautionary approach to egg donation.

Ms. Derek is a prolific writer of mystery and fan fiction novels. When she’s not busy reading or writing, she spends her time whipping people into shape as a fitness trainer in New York City, You can follow her work at or on Twitter @JuliaNY.

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.

Related Links

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

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:

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.