Tanya Prashad thought she was the perfect candidate for surrogacy. Having given birth to healthy children of her own, the 33-year-old wanted to give others the same joy she had known, and decided to be a surrogate for a same-sex couple.
“Hundred percent motivated just to help another couple,” Prashad said. “As far as compensation was concerned it really was just enough to cover health insurance, life insurance, missed work, that was it.”
Although she had signed away her legal rights to be a parent, Prashad, an accountant who lives in the Minneapolis area, used her own egg and said she had worked out a deal with the couple allowing her to still be involved in the child’s life.
“I chose to have the baby with a gay couple because there’s not another mom,” she said. “The plan was for me to still act within the capacity as her mom.”
Prashad gave birth to a baby girl, but immediately after, she said she felt she had made a mistake serving as a surrogate.
“When she was right there in my arms, all those little pieces of paper that we signed kind of just fell away,” she said. “I never for a second thought about what was right for her and what she deserved.”
Prashad eventually had to fight to have a continued relationship with the daughter she gave birth to.
“We ended up in court,” she said. “We actually didn’t fight it out in court. We agreed on a joint custody order together.”
Her daughter is now 10 years old, but Prashad said she is still haunted by her decision.
“I felt like someone that sold my child,” she said.
For thousands of parents unable to conceive, surrogacy has been a viable option to still have biological children. But some are speaking out against surrogacy, claiming that there are risks involved and breaking that mother-newborn bond can have consequences.
Jennifer Lahl is one such woman, and she is on a mission to ban surrogacy in the United States.
Lahl, a mother of three and a former neo-natal nurse, is the filmmaker behind the critical documentaries, “Eggsploitation,” about egg donation, and “Anonymous Father’s Day,” on sperm donation. Her new film, “Breeders: A Subclass of Women?” features women who have deep regrets about being surrogates. Prashad shared her story with “Nightline” at a recent “Breeders” screening.
Through “Breeders,” Lahl accuses the multi-billion-dollar global industry of concealing the health risks for prospective surrogates and equates it to selling organs.
“If you want to be a kidney donor, we say that's wonderful, but you are not allowed to be paid… because what happens when commerce enters in is people will make decisions that are not in their best interest for their health,” Lahl said. “Women are not breeders. Children are not products and commodities. Women are not easy-bake ovens baking cupcakes for nice, other people.”
Lahl is also the president of the conservative-leaning Center for Bioethics and Culture. Though she holds a masters’ degree in bioethics from a well-known evangelical university and books speaking tours with conservative groups, Lahl said her personal religious beliefs do not inform her position on surrogacy.
“I tell people all the time, I’m against surrogacy, I don’t care if you’re gay, straight, single,” she said.