Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Egg donor compensation

Study hard. The Globe reports: Yes, top students reap rich rewards, even as egg donors
Would-be parents want high scorers

"The Harvard Crimson was one of three college newspapers that ran an identical classified ad seeking a woman who fit a narrow profile: younger than 29 with a GPA over 3.5 and an SAT score over 1,400. The lucky candidate stood to collect $35,000 if she donated her eggs for harvesting.

The ad was one of 105 college newspaper ads examined by a Georgia Institute of Technology researcher who issued a report yesterday that appeared to confirm the long-held suspicion that couples who are unable to have children of their own are willing to pay more for reproductive help from someone smart. The analysis showed that higher payments offered to egg donors correlated with higher SAT scores.
“Holding all else equal, an increase of 100 SAT points in the score of a typical incoming student increased the compensation offered to oocyte donors at that college or university by $2,350,’’ wrote researcher Aaron D. Levine.
The paper, published in the March-April issue of the Hastings Center Report, examined ads in 63 student newspapers in spring 2006 and was billed as the first national cross-sectional sample of ads for egg donors. "
"Concerned about eggs being treated as commodities, and worried that big financial rewards could entice women to ignore the risks of the rigorous procedures required for harvesting, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine discourages compensation based on donors’ personal characteristics. The society also discourages any payments over $10,000.
Levine’s paper points out, however, that no outside regulator enforces those guidelines and that they are often ignored.
Of the advertisements Levine examined, nearly one-quarter offered donors more than $10,000, and about one-quarter of the ads listed specific requirements, such as appearance or ethnicity, also in violation of guidelines that discourage greater payment for particular personal characteristics."
"The issue of the report containing Levine’s analysis also offers a counterperspective from John A. Robertson, who chaired the ethics committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine. He casts doubt on the notion that it is an ethical problem to pay more for eggs from a woman with a particular ethnic background or high IQ. “After all, we allow individuals to choose their mates and sperm donors on the basis of such characteristics,’ Robertson wrote. “Why not choose egg donors similarly?’’ "

See also The Value of Smart Eggs from The Faculty Lounge by Kim Krawiec.
"In his response accompanying the report, John Robertson (Texas, law) questions whether there are really any ethical problems raised by the study – after all, Levine finds compliance with the ASRM guidelines in at least half the advertisements in his sample. I would argue, however, that Levine’s study highlights a serious ethical issue, though it is not infertile couples or the agencies working on their behalf whose behavior is ethically troubling. It is ASRM’s paternalistic and misguided attempts to control oocyte donor compensation through the same type of professional guidelines that courts have rejected when employed by engineers, lawyers, dentists, and doctors that should raise an ethical red flag."

And here is the Hastings Center Report: Self-Regulation, Compensation, and the Ethical Recruitment of Oocyte Donors by Aaron D. Levine

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