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Elizabeth Banks has a message for anyone who feels “judged” for having children via a surrogate

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Jessica Rapana
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The Charlies Angels director is sharing her own experience with surrogacy in the hope it will help other women feel less lonely.

We might be making progress when it comes to traditional stigmas surrounding women’s bodies and reproductive issues – but the truth is, we still have a long way to go. Case in point: women being made to feel guilty about using surrogates.

Elizabeth Banks and her husband, sportswriter and film producer Max Handelman have two sons, Magnus, 7, and Felix, 8. Both boys were born via surrogate as Banks is unable to carry babies due to a condition which she describes as “broken belly”.

“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.”

“From that came two miracles,” she continued. “The first was meeting our carrier and her husband who were truly humbling in their decency and generosity. And the second miracle was the birth of our baby boy, Felix Handelman. Felix means ‘happy’ and ‘lucky’ in Latin. And true to his name, Felix is a very happy baby and a blessing on our life.”

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Banks 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.”

However, in a recent interview, the Charlie’s Angels director revealed that, even now, in 2019, she feels “still judged” for having children via surrogacy. Thankfully though, she has learned to ignore the opinions of others.

“I definitely think I’m still judged for what I’ve done and that people don’t understand by choices, but I don’t feel I owe anybody any explanation,” Banks said in an interview with Net-a-Porter’s Porter Edit magazine.

“And, if my story helps people feel less alone on their journey, then I’m grateful for that.”

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In Hollywood, surrogacy remains common. In fact, Banks is one of a long list of celebrities who have spoken out about using surrogates, including Sarah Jessica Parker and Tyra Banks.

Gabrielle Union and her husband, NBA star Dwayne Wade, welcomed their first child via surrogate in November 2018. In an interview with Womens Health in February, she said she felt like she was “surrendering to failure”. However, she said once she came to terms with it, she embraced the processed, down to choosing her surrogate’s reading habits, hoping this trait would be passed on to her daughter.

While it’s disheartening to think women are still struggling with these kinds of feelings and stigmas, it’s encouraging to see celebrities, like Banks and Upton, sharing their own experiences, as well as women increasingly speaking out about reproductive and fertility issues, more generally. 

The more we can normalise these conversations – and remove the shame – the better.

Image: Getty

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Jessica Rapana

Jessica Rapana is a journalist based in London, and enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content. She is especially fond of news, health, entertainment and travel content, and drinks coffee like a Gilmore Girl.

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