Sisterhood Blog

Ordering a Baby Online: Israel's 'Google Baby' Comes to HBO

By Debra Nussbaum Cohen

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A poster for “Google Baby” (click to enlarge)

An independent Israeli documentary that takes a close look at an Israeli firm outsourcing on a global scale every aspect of baby-making has been picked up by HBO and will air in prime time on June 16, according to this article in Haaretz.

From Israeli television director and producer Zippi Brand Frank, “Google Baby” takes a look at a company run in Israel by a man named Doron who calls himself “a pregnancy producer.”

He dispatches the sperm of Israeli men to America, where it fertilizes donor eggs, and then the embryos are sent to India, where they’re implanted in women who work as gestational surrogates and live in special clinics until they give birth. The Forward wrote about the phenomenon here. The most involvement that the American would-be parents have, until they pick up their baby in India, is providing their credit card information.

For those interested in notions of ethics and Jewish law (which, when considering the premise of “Google Baby,” seem practically archaic), the idea of unfettered free-market entrepreneurship meeting the needs of infertile people desperate to be parents, and some of the world’s poorest women hiring themselves out so they can earn money to pay the school fees of their other children, raises challenging questions.

While medical ethics experts may not have had a chance to explore all of the issues presented in “Google Baby,” there is a large number of articles on Jewish law and gestational surrogacy published in the last several years alone, which makes clear the topic’s relevance and importance to those concerned with such things.

Analyses include science writer Miryam Wahrman’s book “Fruit of the Womb: Artificial Reproductive Technologies & Jewish Law” and an article in the journal Health Matrix by law Professor Ellen Waldman, titled “Cultural Priorities Revealed: The Development and Regulation of Assisted Reproduction in the United States and Israel.”. Waldman writes:

The United States and Israel are widely regarded as possessing two of the most ART [Assisted Reproduction Technology]-friendly environments in the world. Both countries stand at the epicenter of fertility-related research and practice and support the supply and demand sides of the ART market with avidity.

That avidity appears to be on full view in “Google Baby,” which is getting as much global play as the assisted reproduction techniques it covers. According to a Haaretz piece:

The film won the 2009 Docaviv Israeli Competition in Tel Aviv, and has been invited to scores of festivals worldwide. Brand Frank will arrive in the United States next week, after visiting China where the film is a contender in the prestigious Magnolia competition. The film also played on the Arte channel in Europe and on HBO Latino. Brand Frank said it is also set to be shown on British Channel 4.

The movie’s poster is as provocative as its premise. The promotional piece, which can be seen here,, shows a baby inside a womb; it looks like a photo of the earth from space, and has an online retailing “add to cart” button below.

Has it really become just that easy?

I’d love, one day, to see “Google Baby 2.0,” which explores what happens when there’s a disabled baby born of this process and the parents don’t want to collect what they’ve “special ordered,” what happens to the gestational surrogates when their extended families and community members find out where they have been for nine months, and what happens, down the road, when some of these children learn the circumstances of their conception and birth.


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