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Filmmaker Jennifer Lahl exposes the dark underside of the fertility industry

After two decades in nursing, Jennifer Lahl became a filmmaker. As founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture, and executive producer, director, and writer, of the documentary film Eggsploitation (see the trailer below), she's exposing the dark underside of the fertility industry: Some egg donors face severe health risks and some persons created through anonymous sperm and egg donors cannot find out anything about their parents and the health risks they may face.

She notes that egg donation is a complicated process requiring weeks of hormone injections that stimulate the ovaries, and then surgical extraction. In a world where so much is regulated, it is unregulated: Individuals can quickly set up their own egg brokerages, and Craigslist has lists of those interested in selling or buying eggs. Eggsploitation includes interviews with women who donated eggs and had severe health problems.

Egg-selling is one of the rare issues that is creating odd right-left coalitions, in this case Christians and radical feminists-the National Organization of Women has endorsed the film. The human interest animates both sides. Lahl speaks of how Jennifer Schneider, whose daughter died of a rare colon cancer after donating three of her eggs, went back to the egg brokerage that had worked with her daughter. She told the brokerage that the children conceived following that donation needed to know they had a family history of colon cancer-which means early screening is important.

Lahl says brokerage officials told her they didn't know where those eggs had gone, or if children had come of those eggs. Lahl says, "I found that appalling."