Some of you may have seen this latest entry to the debate on egg donor compensation popup: yes, sparked by a U.S.-based fertility clinic’s promotion to attract intended parents to a free educational seminar in London. In an attempt to introduce new options for Brits hoping to start a family, The Genetics and IVF Institute said that one seminar attendee would receive free treatment cycle of IVF and donor eggs for women requiring that treatment option. Within days, the media picked up the story that human eggs were being “raffled off” and quoted several appalled and offended British experts and government authorities.
I’m almost unsure where to start in discussing the AP article popup: yes that appeared today. I guess the inaccuracies are probably a good place. The article states that “In the U.S., women are routinely paid from $10,000 to $35,000 or more for their eggs.” This is absolutely false. Egg donors are routinely paid $4,000-$10,000 by reputable agencies and any amount over that is in violation of the guidelines established by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). I can’t say that there aren’t instances where donors have been paid more, but it is certainly not a routine practice.
But the real issue here is that Great Britain only allows what it calls “altruistic egg donation” which puts a cap on donor compensation at approximately $400. This is said to “protect the dignity of donors and recipients.” I have to say this idea truly offends me. In the United States, egg donors (as well as recipients) are rigorously screened and counseled by psychological, legal and medical experts. They arrive at the conclusion that egg donation is right for them after evaluating the risks and benefits of the procedure. The women who make it through the screening are smart, logical and clear minded in the decision of what is best for them and their bodies. The notion that the government is the only one who can protect their “dignity” as an egg donor is condescending and offensive.
Plus, as I’ve always said, I don’t believe any woman would put herself through the physically and emotionally taxing process of egg donation strictly for the compensation. On the flip side, not providing appropriate compensation for the significant time and inconvenience that accompanies the commitment made by an egg donor clearly serves as a deterrent. And, $400 is clearly not appropriate.
The truth is women will not go through the rigorous IVF protocol for an amount of compensation that does not begin to adequately reflect the time and energy required to complete the process. As a result, donor eggs will not be available for intended parents. This can easily be seen by the growing number of couples leaving countries with these types of bans to seek treatment where free reproductive will is supported – like the U.S. This really just shines a light on “altruistic donation” as a failed concept under the current structure in Great Britain, leaving patients clamoring for the opportunity to have a baby in a way they deem appropriate between consenting adults. Now, to add insult to injury, they’ll have to travel far and wide for that opportunity.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this.