Sunday, March 14, 2010

Raffle for a human egg

The Times of London reports: IVF doctors to raffle human egg

"A FERTILITY clinic is raffling a human egg in London to promote its new “baby profiling” service, which circumvents British IVF (in vitro fertilisation) laws.
The winner will be able to pick the egg donor by racial background, upbringing and education. Payment for profit is illegal in Britain, but the £13,000 of free IVF treatment will be provided in America. "
"The eggs are provided by American donors aged between 19 and 32, all of whom are university students or graduates. Overweight women or smokers are not accepted onto the donation programme Before picking a donor, the British women scan detailed anonymised profiles, including the donors’ motives for selling. The profiles include recordings of the women talking about their attitudes, as well as pictures taken of them in their childhood. They only provide an up-to-date photo if they enter serious negotiations.
Women egg donors in America can make $10,000 (£6,600) a time if they are well educated and with desirable physical characteristics.
The sale of their eggs was condemned yesterday by Josephine Quintavalle, founder of Comment on Reproductive Ethics, a pressure group, who said the infertility market had plumbed new depths.
“In no other branch of medicine would the ruthless exploitation of the vulnerable be tolerated. These women selling their eggs are taking a huge risk with their health and future fertility simply because they need the money.”
In Britain, donors have to agree to be identified and contacted by any resulting offspring when they reach the age of 18.
Payments are restricted to a maximum fee of £250 for expenses, and as a result donors are in extremely short supply. "
"The lure of payment means there is no shortage of would-be egg donors in America. GIVF receives up to 500 applications a month, but only about five will pass the two-month screening programme. "
"In Britain, only 956 of the 36,861 women who had IVF in 2007 received donor eggs. Half of those were egg sharers and of the remainder many were friends or relatives of the women being treated.
The number of donors is boosted by an arrangement whereby women receive free treatment if they agree to share their eggs with another patient who has no useable eggs at all. The drawback is that anyone undergoing fertility treatment necessarily has inferior eggs, so the chances of pregnancy for both women is relatively poor.
Egg donation is a protracted and painful process that requires treatment with potentially dangerous drugs. A donor has to undergo a course of treatment aimed at stimulating her ovaries to produce a dozen or more eggs in one menstrual cycle, instead of the single ripe egg released every month in natural conditions.
Bridge Centre staff admit they were bemused by the GIVF free egg offer from America. “They are much more market-driven than we are, and they do have some rather more creative techniques,” said Michael Summers, a senior consultant in reproductive medicine at the Bridge."

The debate over whether it's ok for women to sell eggs is not over in America. Kim Krawiec at Faculty Lounge asks How Is An Egg Donor Like A Prostitute?
"A few weeks ago, House Bill 3077, which would make it illegal to compensate women for oocyte donation, easily passed the Oklahoma house by a vote of 85-8. Said Rep. Rebecca Hamilton, D-Oklahoma City, the bill’s author, fertility clinics "could use donor eggs all they want; they just can’t go out and solicit women with money.” According to news reports, Hamilton has likened the practice to prostitution, claiming that “it turns doctors into predators.”
The debate harkens back to an exchange in September, in which Dr. Naomi Pfeffer drew fire for a statement to the Motherhood in the 21st Century Conference at the University College London that compared egg donors to prostitutes. As reported in The Times:
British couples who travel abroad for IVF treatment and buy other women’s eggs are engaging in a form of prostitution, a fertility conference was told yesterday. . .
Professor Pfeffer, who researches controversial developments in medicine, told the Motherhood in the 21st Century Conference at University College London: “The exchange relationship is analogous to that of a client and a prostitute. It’s a unique situation because it’s the only instance in which a woman exploits another woman’s body….
These women are being encouraged to take real risks with their health through ovarian stimulation and egg retrieval. It commodifies women’s bodies and treats their reproductive capacities as a service.
So, what sort of crazy person would compare an egg donor to a prostitute?
I would. But not for the reasons that either Hamilton or Pfeffer have in mind.
As I argue in the recently posted, A Woman’s Worth, an egg donor is much like a prostitute in the following sense: both are selling something that is often expected or encouraged to be given for free or at a reduced price, despite its high economic value. "

1 comment:

Egg Donors said...

Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!