‘I Felt Like Someone That Sold My Child’: When Women Regret Being Surrogates

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.

But Lahl’s anti-surrogacy position is controversial, especially since children born through gestational surrogacy, meaning the child’s parents’ egg and sperm are inserted into a surrogate’s womb through in-vitro, is on the rise. Children born through gestational surrogacy increased 150 percent from 2004 to 2012, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.

“I’ve been threatened, I’ve been told I should have a bullet put to my head,” Lahl said. “The industry hates me because I’m not good for the bottom line and I might hurt business.”

In recent years, surrogacy has had some high-profile attention, from Nicole Kidman to Sarah Jessica Parker and Ricky Martin, all using the method to expand their families.

Traci Woolard, who gave birth to a child for a couple that wasn’t able to conceive on their own, has been protesting Lahl’s “Breeders” screening and publicly defends her right to be a surrogate mother.

“I have successfully carried for two families, delivering four babies, to help complete their families,” she said. “It is something that I can give back, and something that I can help another family achieve.”

But Lahl believes surrogacy is wrong, and says fracturing the bond between birth mother and newborn “can have significant damage, short and long term.”

“Just because somebody can’t have a child doesn’t mean that I have to say by all means, any way you can get a child is fine,” she said. “There’s a long step between I can’t have a child, and what are the ethical ways to fulfilling that need to getting a child.”

ABC News senior medical contributor Dr. Jennifer Ashton says that there are many ways for someone to be a parent, not just through giving birth to a child.

“I think one of the most important things for people to remember when they talk about unconventional ways to become parents today, is that a lot more goes into being a parent than biology,” she said. “It’s very important to remember that. People can get very, very emotional when they talk about these types of issues. The medical ones are straight forward, the social ones get a little trickier.”

British researchers at the Centre for Family Research at the University of Cambridge recently released a study that followed surrogacy children from infancy to adolescence and found these children were very well-adjusted and had good relationships with their parents. However, surrogacy children showed slightly higher levels of psychological problems at age 7 in comparison with a group of non-surrogate children. The researchers found this difference usually disappeared by age 10.

However, Ashton cautions that more research is needed.

“They’re very small studies. They are very limited in number and any differences tend to disappear or resolve themselves by early adolescence or late childhood so I think we have to be careful in interpreting this data and literally not throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak,” Ashton said.

The Cambridge researchers believe the raised levels of psychological problems for surrogate children happen at age 7 because that’s when they gain a better understanding of how they were born, and they have questions.

Jessica Kern, 30, a Minneapolis area restaurant worker who is featured in “Breeders,” said she spent her entire childhood in the dark about being born through a surrogate, but wondered why she looked so different from the woman who raised her.

“For some reason, intuitively within me, I had this sense of what family was, and what it should feel like, and I never experienced it,” she said.

She eventually discovered her biological mother was a surrogate her parents used, and tracked down the woman who gave birth to her. When she found her, she also learned her biological mother had been paid $10,000 to carry her to term.

“I’m not fond of the fact that I’m born through a paycheck,” she said.

Prashad believes her daughter is still overcoming issues stemming from being born through surrogacy.

“She’s got a lot of insecurities and a lot of fear. She needs a lot more reassurance, a lot more,” she said. “All kids need nurture but you know, she needs that extra pat, that extra hug, that extra everything’s going to be OK.”

Remembering Slain Journalist James Foley

James Foley was passionate about reporting from conflict zones and finding stories that may have otherwise gone untold.

The missing U.S. journalist, who was apparently beheaded in Syria, tweeted about other journalists who were held captive, while continuing to bring the realities of war-torn regions to the world.

“It’s part of the problem with these conflicts,” Foley said during a forum at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in 2011. “We’re not close enough to it and if reporters, if we don’t try to get really close to what these guys …we don’t understand the world, essentially.”

Video Appears to Show Beheading of Journalist James Foley

The International Effort to Free James Foley

Foley began his career as a teacher, working to make a difference in the lives of disadvantaged youth. With an innate curiosity about the world, he made a career shift in 2007 when he enrolled in a graduate program at Medill in Evanston, Illinois.

Foley recalled how he believed conflict reporters had to work for major daily newspapers, but a reporter from the Washington Post told him it was possible to freelance abroad.

“I was pretty much hooked,” Foley said.

After graduating, Foley went to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and Syria as a freelance journalist. As his Twitter bio put it, his travels left him with “a lot of questions, no answers.”

Foley worked close to the frontlines, shooting video and filing articles for a variety of publications. In one video, he showed the burning, ransacked town of Tawergha, Libya, that more than 30,000 people had once called home.

Another video captured the carnage from the Libyan town of Sirte.

Held captive in Libya for 44 days in 2011, Foley, 40, said he relied on prayer during the experience. Two weeks after his release, he spoke to Medill students June 2 about his experience as a conflict reporter.

“When you see something really violent it does a strange thing to you. It doesn’t always repel you. Sometimes, as you know, it draws you closer,” he said. “Feeling like you’ve survived something, you know, it’s a strange sort of force that you are drawn back to. I think that is the absolute reality.”

While Foley saw violence and bloodshed, he also took time to appreciate moments with civilians caught in a conflict zone. He shared a video of a Syrian couple exchanging vows in Aleppo as bombs dropped in the distance.

As part of a group of concerned journalists, Foley also helped raise money for an ambulance in Aleppo.

He actively tweeted until his kidnapping in November 2012, sharing his colleagues’ stories and reminding his followers of Austin Tice, a freelance journalist who was kidnapped in August 2012 and still remains missing.

A video posted online Tuesday showed Foley apparently being beheaded by a militant, which U.S. officials today described as “authentic.”

A statement posted on the Free James Foley Facebook page and attributed to Foley’s mother, Diane, said his family has “never been prouder of our son Jim.”

“He gave his life trying to expose the world to suffering of the Syrian people,” the note says. “We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents… We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us. He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person.”

James Foley’s Parents Recall Son’s ‘Big Heart’

The parents of James Foley, the American journalist who was beheaded my a masked captor, graciously remembered their son’s big heart and said they were trying to not be bitter.

John and Diane Foley spoke eloquently outside their New Hampshire home about their son’s legacy and asked for mercy for other Americans being held abroad.

“There is no reason for this slaughter,” Diane Foley said. “Jim was just a symbol for our country. Jim was there to hear the truth and bear witness to the love and suffering…and they knew that,” she said referring to the militant Islamic group ISIS that claimed responsibility for killing Foley.

Remembering Slain Journalist James Foley

The International Effort to Free James Foley

‘Apparent’ That James Foley Executioner Is British, Intel Agencies Race to ID Killer

“Jim had a big heart and that is what we shared with President Obama. We just pray that Jim’s death can bring our country together in a stronger way,” Diane Foley said today.

Her husband’s voice broke as he cited his son’s final words, that he wished he could have spent more time with his family. The father’s last sentence was interrupted by a sob as he paused to compose himself.

“We’re very proud of Jim,” his mother said while speaking at times emotionally about her son. “He was a courageous, fearless journalist. A very compassionate American.”

The parents showed remarkable grace while talking about the grisly execution of their son.

“Jim would never want us to hate or be bitter… We’re praying for the strength to love like he did,” Diane Foley said. “We are praying for mercy for the remaining hostages.”

Her husband added, “We’re just begging for mercy… They never hurt anybody. They were trying to help.”

The Foleys, who have five children, had been through the anguish of their son’s capture once before when he was held for 44 days in Libya.

Diane Foley said her son’s decision to return to work abroad made some of his siblings angry after they had worked tirelessly to raise awareness during his detention in Libya.

“Jim, you have so many gifts,” she said they told him. “Why are you doing this?”

John Foley said of his son’s decision to work in conflict zones was driven by the passion for his work, which he said “gave him energy.”

“He was not crazy. He was motivated,” Foley said.

Aerospace and Defense Major Diversified Industry: Investing Essentials

Aerospace and defense companies churn out everything from NASA rocketships and commercial jetliners to Air Force fighter jets, Navy nuclear submarines, and Army main battle tanks. Around the globe, they include “national champions” such as Airbus in Europe, Austal in Australia, and Yangzijiang Shipbuilding in China. Yet stock market analysts traditionally group these two industries into one: the “aerospace and defense industry.”


Globally, the aerospace and defense industry is a $2 trillion a year business. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Trying to lasso these disparate products into a single industry creates a marriage of inconvenience, however. So, for more detailed examination, analysts traditionally subdivide the aerospace and defense industry into three smaller groupings of companies:

  • Aerospace and defense products and services
  • Aerospace and defense major diversified
  • Simply “defense”

Today we’ll focus on arguably the most important of these three groupings: the aerospace and defense major diversified industry.

What is the aerospace and defense major diversified industry?

The key word to focus on in defining the aerospace and defense major diversified industry is “major.” As in “big.”

Aerospace and defense major diversified includes such defense industry heavyweights as British warship builder BAE Systems  (NASDAQOTH: BAESY  ) and its American analogHuntington Ingalls  (NYSE: HII  ) . Oftentimes, companies in this industry are so big that they have diversified into areas other than defense, complementing huge military products and services businesses with even larger commercial wings:

  • Boeing (NYSE: BA  )  earns billions of dollars a year building warplanes and guided munitions for the military, but billions more from launching satellites into space, and billions and billions more — 60% of its business in 2013, in fact — from the manufacture of commercial aircraft.
  • United Technologies (NYSE: UTX  ) , whose Sikorsky division is one of the most prestigious producers of military helicopters on the planet, and whose Pratt & Whitney business builds the jet engines that power the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, boasts an HVAC and building controls business that easily dwarfs either of its military products units in size.
  • General Dynamics (NYSE: GD  ) , best known as the producer of Abrams main battle tanks and Stryker armored personnel carriers, makes more money from manufacturing Gulfstream business jets than from those armored vehicles.

The aerospace and defense major diversified industry includes several other heavyweights. The one thing they all have in common is great size. They’re the acquirers of smaller defense and aerospace companies and the buyers of component parts manufactured by their smaller brethren. Think of them as the apex predators of the aerospace and defense industry.

How big is the aerospace and defense major diversified industry?

Globally, the market for defense products and services is estimated to be worth about $1.72 trillion annually. The nonprofit Space Foundation puts the size of the “global space economy” at $304 billion in yearly sales. And commercial aircraft are estimated to be worth $5.2 trillion in sales over the next 20 years for civilian planes sized for 100 or more passengers (according to a recent Boeing forecast), with a further $658 billion market opportunity for smaller commercial aircraft, and perhaps $617 billion for business jets (according to Canada’sBombardier).

Naturally, some of these categories overlap. But when you add in the markets for “aerospace” products such as helicopters, recreational small aircraft, crop dusters, and similar aircraft, annual sales in the aerospace and defense industry as a whole easily top $2 trillion annually.

As the subsector of the global aerospace and defense industry boasting the companies with the biggest market caps and the biggest annual revenue streams, the aerospace and defense major diversified industry captures a large percentage of these sales for itself.

How does the aerospace and defense major diversified industry work?

Broadly speaking, spending on aerospace and defense comes from two sources: government and private industry. Of the two, government is by far the most important source of revenue for this industry.

According to Forbes, major diversified aerospace and defense contractors in the U.S. depend on the government for as much as 85% of their revenue streams. Bloomberg data suggests that the “vast majority” of revenues for these companies come from Pentagon contracts, with four of the five top government contractors depending on federal largesse for two-thirds of their revenue streams. The exception, Boeing, is less dependent on the government thanks to revenue from sales of commercial airplanes to airlines and airplane leasing companies around the world.

And speaking of “around the globe,” dependence on government spending is not a solely American phenomenon. Europe’s two biggest aerospace and defense companies, BAE and Airbus, depend on military and security contracts from the government for about half their income. And it works both ways: foreign governments often also have sizable stakes in the success of their national champion aerospace and defense entities. For example, the Italian government owns 30% of the country’s premier aerospace company, Finmeccanica.

What drives the aerospace and defense major diversified industry?

This being the case, aerospace and defense major diversified industry companies often act as virtual arms of the government. It’s a cyclical industry that rises or falls alongside the state of the economy.

This is true in part because of the role these companies often play in commercial aerospace — selling aircraft to airlines and individuals, which buy more planes when the economy is good than when it’s struggling. But it’s also true because when the economy is down, tax revenue tends to fall, constricting the revenue streams that governments depend upon to pay for their military and space exploration programs.

Governments, though, have a bit more financial flexibility than other customers when it comes to spending in tight economic times. Sovereign debt markets, combined with the ability to literally “print money” when necessary, mean that government customers can often continue spending even when, technically speaking, they have no money to spend. During the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. government spent freely on defense products and services even as it cut taxes and took on more debt. This offered a prime example of how governments — for a time at least — are able to put off economic reality in order to keep spending on aerospace and defense when they perceive a need to do so.

Granted, the dark cloud within this silver lining is that the bills for such spending eventually come due. Recent quarters have seen modest declines in U.S. defense spending as a result, along with significant cuts to space programs. This means few analysts are predicting a return to strong growth in the industry in the near future.

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Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor is arguably the world’s premier air superiority fighter — but it simply cost too much to produce, and the U.S. government recently canceled the program. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Holder’s visit to Ferguson: Protests take a turn for the peaceful

As US Attorney General Eric Holder swung through Ferguson, Mo., on a one-day visit Wednesday, protests in the racially tense suburb took on a decidedly calmer tone. Only six arrests were recorded – versus 47 the night before – and reporters and police described the evening as the most peaceful night since the Aug. 9 shooting death of black teen Mike Brown.

By 12:30 a.m. Thursday, most of the 150 protesters who had been marching up and down West Florissant Avenue, where the original incident took place, had gone home, due at least partially to calls for nonviolence by community leaders. Police – most of whom were dressed in regular garb rather than the militarized riot gear they’d worn in days past – adopted a hands-off approach and merely stood guard over the demonstrations.

There were two notable confrontations: In one, a police officer pointed a rifle at several protesters and threatened to kill them before being whisked away by senior officers. In another, officers evacuated a white, pro-police demonstrator from the vicinity of the protesters. But, overall, officials emphasized that the night marked one more significant improvement in Ferguson’s public safety situation.

“Tonight was a very good night,” said Missouri Highway Patrol Capt. Ron Johnson, who took control of policing the protests on Aug. 14. He also described the protesters as a “different crowd” than in previous evenings, as fewer “agitators” – violent elements from outside the community often affiliated with organized fringe groups – were present.

“Each night, I’ve seen a turning point,” Captain Johnson said. “Each night I’ve seen small steps.”

Also calming protests were the rain and lightning storms that passed through Missouri on Wednesday night, and the sympathetic words of Mr. Holder, a black attorney general who has made civil rights a point of emphasis in recent years.

In a meeting with residents at Florissant Valley Community College in Ferguson, Holder acknowledged the enduring presence of police discrimination in the United States – and told of his own run-ins with law enforcement growing up in Washington, D.C.

“I understand that mistrust,” Holder said.

“I am the attorney general of the United States. But I am also a black man,” he added. “I think about my time in Georgetown – a nice neighborhood of Washington – and I am running to a picture movie at about 8 o’clock at night…. Police car comes up, flashing his lights, yells, ‘Where you going? Hold it.’ I say, ‘Whoa, I’m going to a movie.’ “

Holder also met with Mr. Brown’s parents, students at the college, elected leaders, and law enforcement officials – including Johnson. During those meetings Holder emphasized that the racial tensions in Ferguson – and in communities across the country – were the result of systematic problems that “predate this incident.”

Brown’s visit to Ferguson comes just nine months after he visited the nearby city of St. Louis, where the attorney general promoted new initiatives to reduce incarceration among poor black men.

In another St. Louis suburb – Clayton, Mo. – grand jury deliberations began Wednesday on the shooting death of Brown by officer Darren Wilson, a 28-year-old white member of the Ferguson Police Department.

There, outside the St. Louis County Justice Center, about two dozens peaceful demonstrators congregated, calling for the prosecuting attorney, Robert McCulloch, to recuse himself. They argue that Mr. McCulloch – whose brother, mother, father, uncle, and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department – is too closely linked to law enforcement in the area to approach the matter impartially. Moreover, his father was killed in the line of duty by a black suspect, local critics say.

On Tuesday, Gov. Jay Nixon (D), responding to calls for him to replace Mr. McCulloch, refused to take that step, noting that there are methods to remove oneself from a case that do not require executive action.

“Departing from this established process could unnecessarily inject uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the investigation,” he said.

During the grand jury investigation, which will likely last into October, 11 jurors will decide whether Officer Wilson should be indicted in the shooting death of Brown. According to autopsies, Wilson shot Brown at least six times, twice in the head.

Ahead of march for chokehold victim, New York leaders and clergy come together

New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and police Commissioner William Bratton discussed the city’s simmering unrest with members of New York’s clergy Wednesday, seeking to find ways to move the city forward as it continues to grapple with last month’s killing of Eric Garner allegedly at the hands of police.

The interfaith meeting, held at the residence of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York, came just three days before a major protest march and rally are scheduled to take place in Staten Island, where Mr. Garner died after an apparent chokehold. The protest is being organized by the Rev. Al Sharpton, who also attended the round table.

Noting there was “a seriousness, an urgency, and an extraordinary unity” at the meeting, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Bratton sought the help of the city’s ministers, which included leaders of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, to ease the tensions in minority neighborhoods, which have bristled for years under the aggressive street tactics of the New York Police Department.

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“This group has convened for a purpose – an ongoing purpose: This group of leaders will help us perfect our approach to deepening our reforms and bringing them to each and every neighborhood, and making the communities true partners with police,” the mayor said near the steps of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. “These leaders will help us send a message of peace and reconciliation all over this city, and it will happen on an ongoing basis until greater progress is secure.”

Though de Blasio scheduled this round table a day before the police shooting of Mike Brown, an unarmed teen in Ferguson, Mo., the rage and violence expressed in the St. Louis suburb has underscored the tensions on New York streets. The large Staten Island protest was also planned before the shooting.

“We do not tolerate violence at marches,” said Mr. Sharpton at the press conference following Wednesday’s meeting. “I have no fear of that at all on Saturday, and if it ever were to occur, we would stop it and would not tolerate it. There is a difference between thugs and activists. We’re activists. We’re not thugs. And we will not harbor thugs.”

Sharpton’s National Action Network is the major sponsor of Saturday’s march and rally.

The mayor’s turn to the city’s clergy, many say, is something of a shift for the administration. De Blasio does not identify with any organized religion, and he does not attend services. Many of the rank and file of the NYPD took it personally when the mayor refused to march in the city’s annual St. Patrick’s Day parade, which remains important for many in the department, given its longstanding Irish Catholic heritage. De Blasio had criticized the parade, whose organizers refuse to allow an official gay and lesbian presence.

But the clergy round table, hosted by Cardinal Dolan, resonated with members of the NYPD – even though most of them continue to resent de Blasio, after his scathing critiques of the department as a mayoral candidate last summer.

“But I give the mayor kudos for reaching out to the cardinal right now, because he might be the only guy right now with credibility,” says Ed Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, in a Monitor interview last week. He is a frequent critic of de Blasio, and a vehement critic of Sharpton.

“Trying to solve the divide that’s in the works right now, I just think it’s going to have to take some time, credible people, and then we can build bridges,” Mr. Mullins says. “In that respect, it’s a good step: I think the mayor’s making the right choice by doing that.”

Since becoming mayor, de Blasio has quelled his criticism of police, and he has steadfastly supported his police force throughout the Garner crisis – to the chagrin of many of his progressive supporters.

Religious leaders did not mention Bratton’s “broken windows” policing theories, which include aggressive enforcement of low-level crimes in high-crime neighborhoods – and which critics say led to the fatal arrest of Garner, who resisted police, and who made a living in part by selling loose cigarettes. Minority leaders say these tactics unfairly target men of color and amount to relentless harassment in their neighborhoods.

Bratton credited the mayor with his riff on the old police adage, “to protect and serve,” which de Blasio revised to “to protect and to respect.” “The role of police is not just to serve, but the role of the police is to build relationships,” Bratton said Wednesday, echoing de Blasio’s frequent theme.

“But it also resonates with me because it has a duality,” the commissioner continued. “It has a duality in that it means that to protect, and to respect, is not just the obligation of the police, but of the community – the idea that we have to have a mutual respect for the law. The police – that when we enforce it, we do it lawfully, respectfully, consistently. And the public have a respect for the law that they obey it.”

At the press conference Wednesday, De Blasio infused his usual themes with a language somewhat unusual for the secular progressive.

“The notions of redemption that run through so many faiths are all about letting people air their concerns, their grievances, their imperfections,” the mayor said. “But government has to do that, and government has often failed to do that. And the very act of active and compassionate listening actually changes people. It changes whether people feel they can find a democratic and peaceful solution, or whether they feel it’s unavailable to them.”