Justina Machado and Skyler Samuels star in Switched Before Birth as two women embattled with each other after a mistake in the in vitro fertilization (IVF) transfer process

By Benjamin VanHoose
July 21, 2021 12:00 PM
Justina Machado, Skyler Samuels, Elisabeth Röhm
Justina Machado, Skyler Samuels and Elisabeth Röhm
| Credit: Benjo Arwas; Taylor Hill/Getty; Michael Kovac/Getty

True-story fertility experiences inspired Elisabeth Röhm's latest project.

Lifetime announced Wednesday that Röhm directed its upcoming movie Switched Before Birth, which shows how two women's fertility journeys become entangled after a mistake in the IVF process. According to Lifetime, the "powerful" film is "inspired by IVF stories of actual couples" and will premiere this fall.

Scream Queens' Skyler Samuels plays Olivia Crawford, who, after multiple miscarriages and various failed rounds of in vitro fertilization, finally becomes pregnant — with twins — with husband Brian (Bo Yokely). It's during her successful IVF process that she meets Anna Ramirez, played by One Day at a Time's Justina Machado.

Anna is similarly struggling with conceiving, though once she also becomes pregnant, she bonds with Olivia as they celebrate their happy news. Anna eventually suffers a miscarriage, and her marriage with her husband Gabe (Yancey Arias) deteriorates.

The twist: When Olivia gives birth to her twins, they discover that not only are the two babies not twins, but one is biologically Anna and Gabe's, implanted into Olivia by accident. The two women become at odds, as Olivia aims to keep the baby she carried and gave birth to, while Anna fights to bring her biological son home.

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switched before birth
Credit: lifetime

Switched Before Birth is produced by Big Dreams Entertainment and Swirl for Lifetime. Leslie Greif, Laurie Pozmantier and Stacy Mandelberg serve as executive producers, and Röhm directs a script from Kelly Fullerton. Eric Tomosunas also serves as executive producer and Alex Kerr and Ron Robinson serve as producers.

According to a press release, the film highlights the "devastating mishaps and regulatory gaps [that] have been exposed within the industry" of fertility, and how a "lack of federal government regulatory oversight" leads to "little repercussions for facilities that misplace genetic material or make other mistakes that have lasting effects."

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Röhm, 48, is the author of Baby Steps: Having the Child I Always Wanted and mother to 13-year-old daughter Easton August. She previously opened up about her own IVF journey and other parenting topics in blogs for PEOPLE.

Back in 2011, while opening up about her fertility experience, she wrote, "As a woman who has had to receive assistance to be able to carry a child and deliver a healthy baby girl, I am grateful that I had the right to make a choice for my family and regarding my own body."

She later added, "I thank God every day for the medical advancements that allowed me the choice to be the mother I had dreamt of being. Every family that has a child is blessed and every woman or man who deeply and lovingly wants to parent should have the right to do so."