'Angel For Hire' is a 26-minute documentary that examines the power of the contract in surrogate motherhood arrangements, and the implications of signing away one's own bodily rights to bear a child for a stranger.
The film follows Angel Patwell through the final weeks of her second surrogate pregnancy as she struggles to turn a breach baby and faces the possibility of a contract-mandated cesarean section against her wishes.
Interwoven with the modern story is the history of Noel Keane, a pioneering and controversial lawyer from Dearborn, Michigan who created the first surrogate parenting contract in the late 1970s. At the time, the concept seemed outrageous, yet Keane took a chance and drew up the first “commercial” surrogacy agreement.
Angel's contract, very similar to the one drawn up by Noel Keane over 30 years ago, is still the primary document governing any complication arising during the surrogate parenting relationship.
'Angel For Hire' explores how drastically the legal landscape has shifted towards making surrogacy available, and yet how difficult it is to pin down a process where emotions are entwined with legal commitments.
As Angel says, “You read the contract, but you never think all the things in it are a possibility, that they could happen to you.”
Produced, Shot and Edited by Mary Flynn & Nina Goodby
UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism Documentary Program
Copyright 2011 Mary Flynn & Nina Goodby