As liberal legislators across the country promote taxpayer funded embryonic stem cell/cloning experimentation, a main argument is there are leftover embryos in in vitro fertilization clinics they can see put to good use that would otherwise be discarded.
We have always maintained the number of embryos available for experimentation is minute, and women will soon be exploited for their eggs. That day is here.
The AP/Boston Globe reported yesterday….
Human egg donation was a rarity not so long ago. But heightened demand for eggs — and rising compensation for donors — are prompting more young women to consider it. Jennifer Dziura, a 28-year-old New Yorker, is one of them. She received $8,000 to donate her eggs in the fall of 2005 and hopes she’ll be chosen again before the private egg broker she’s registered with considers her too old….
As more older moms look for help getting pregnant, younger women have become increasingly willing to part with their eggs. Some do it to help relatives and friends, or from a sense of altruism, but others openly acknowledge money is a big factor in their decision, prompting critics to worry that they’re helping drive an unregulated market for human tissue….
"Everyone does it for the money," says Dziura…. "No one would do that for free — maybe for your sister, but not for a stranger."
The American Society of Reproductive Medicine has set a compensation guideline of $5,000, with a limit of $10,000 for special cases — if, for instance, a recipient wants eggs of rare ancestry….
Still, some egg brokers — particularly those in the East and West — are ignoring suggestions for a cap on compensation, and paying women more.
"Egg Donors Wanted" ads are common on the Internet, in college newspapers and on city trains. And with no federal laws limiting donor fees — and fertility doctors conceding the difficulties of policing their own industry — one ethicist says that eggs have quickly become "commoditized."
"It does feel a little more like the Wild West than it ought to," says Dr. Jeffrey Kahn, director of the University of Minnesota Center for Bioethics. And he only sees the problem growing as states such as California move closer to funding major stem-cell research, requiring more donor eggs….
A small survey from an Illinois clinic, included at a recent ASRM meeting, found that donors used compensation for everything from savings and down-payments on property to school expenses and car payments. Half of them also used some of the money to pay credit card debt and other loans….
"[I]f I’m honest, I did it for financial reasons; I wanted to travel," says the 31-year-old woman who lives in New York and works for an international nonprofit. She asked to remain anonymous since her family doesn’t know she donated eggs three times.
"It would be a relief to know that my eggs were being used to find medical cures," she says, "rather than being used to produce additional kids for well-to-do American families."
[Photo, courtesy of Nature.com, is of "'Ripened eggs' used for cloning work"]