A story in yesterday's New York Times outlines the "controversy" about "high prices" for ova, which "stir ethical concerns." Unlike most cases where bystanders to a transaction second-guess the price one party decides to charge and another agrees to pay, the concern is not about the buyer. The critics are not worried that reproductive clinics are taking advantage of infertile couples desperate for children. Instead they're worried that reproductive clinics are taking advantage of "donors" by paying them too much. Since the drugs and surgery required to extract ova carry certain risks, the critics say, it's important that the payments be kept to a minimum.
In most areas of life, of course, people demand more money to compensate for risk. But women selling their ova have to be protected from their own greed. "The real issue," a bioethicist explains, "is whether the money can cloud someone's judgment."
The bioethicists seem to have entered into a conspiracy in restraint of trade with the clinics that buy ova. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has determined that the just price for an egg extraction is less than $5,000. Anything more, it says, would "require justification," and payments exceeding $10,000 are "beyond what is appropriate."
In the October issue of reason, Kerry Howley detailed her own victimization at the hands of ovum buyers who clouded her judgment by paying her too much.