Elizabeth Banks on surrogacy: ‘I definitely think I’m still judged for what I’ve done’
Actress and director Elizabeth Banks has said she feels as though she is “still judged” for having had her children through surrogacy
There is no straight line when it comes to fertility. For every woman, it is a unique journey. For some, it happens easier than others. Others get there after a hurdle or years of trying via every means available. We are getting better on Irish shores about having those conversations.
And though we are very much trying to erase the stigma that comes with women’s bodies and reproductivity, Elizabeth Banks’ comments are a reminder that we have a long way to go.
In a recent interview with Net-a-Porter’s Porter Edit magazine, the Charlie’s Angels director opened up about the fertility issues she has experienced.
Banks and her husband, sportswriter and film producer Max Handelman, have two sons: seven-year-old Magnus and eight-year-old Felix, delivered via a surrogate after Banks had what she describes as a “broken belly”.
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“I have been very fortunate in life both professionally and personally,” Banks revealed in a blog post when she announced Felix’s birth in 2011.
“The one true hurdle I’ve faced in life is that I have a broken belly. After years of trying to get pregnant, exploring the range of fertility treatments, all unsuccessful, our journey led us to gestational surrogacy.”
She also said using a surrogate had “exceeded all expectations”. “[It] taught us a great deal about generosity and gratitude, and established a relationship that will last a lifetime.”
Whispers in small circles
Full surrogacy (or host/gestational surrogacy) is where there is no genetic connection between the surrogate mother and the baby she is carrying.
Banks explained that today there are public forums, Facebook groups and hashtags in which women can discuss reproductive issues, but, as we know, that was far from always the case.
“Women’s reproductive issues were things you would whisper about in small circles”
Regardless of how far we have come as a society in this regard, Banks said she doesn’t think people “understand her choices”.
“I definitely think I’m still judged for what I’ve done.”
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“But I don’t feel I owe anybody any explanation,” Banks continued.
“And, if my story helps people feel less alone on their journey, then I’m grateful for that.”
Surrogacy is common in Hollywood – at least, we tend to hear more of these stories than that of women who are not celebrities – but Banks is doing her part in normalising what remains a difficult topic of conversation.
This we need more of.
Main photograph: @WSJMag
Related: ‘For everyone going through infertility and conception hell, please know it was not a straight line for me’
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Related: Unexplained infertility: ‘I felt as if I had failed my son because I hadn’t given him siblings’