Human Bondage: Now With Benefits!

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In retrospect, this was inevitable:

Sadly, egg donation has less to do with altruism and more to do with the exploitation of women–particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet.

In fact, we contend that human egg harvesting is the newest form of human trafficking.

That's from a piece in First Things coauthored by an adjunct professor at George Washington University and the founding director of Hands Off Our Ovaries. They're calling for Congress to adopt a definition of trafficking that encompasses not only Emperor's Club employees, but anyone who buys a kidney on the black market or eggs on the gray one. Given the breadth of their definition, it seems to me that it would also include sperm donors and surrogate mothers. Actually, given the breadth of their definition, it seems to me that it would include any employment contract of which these activists do not approve.

Even if the authors restrict themselves to adult women selling ova, it's worth reflecting on the vulgarity of this conflation. Johan Hari here describes a 14-year-old Bangladeshi girl sold into prostitution in Calcutta, forced to service 10 men a day. The average American egg vendor is probably a healthy middle class college student looking for help with tuition. If you're actually concerned about child slavery, the idea of comparing the experiences of the former and the latter might well strike you as grotesque.

The authors go on to claim that justification for including egg vending is right there in the UN protocol on trafficking (Pdf). As they explain it, article three includes (emphasis mine):

acts of trafficking, which include recruitment of persons. Young women are heavily recruited for their eggs. One Google search would confirm this.
means of trafficking, such as forms of coercion, fraud, deception, the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability, or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits.
purposes of trafficking: exploitation, which is at the heart of trafficking, for the purpose of forced labor or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude, or the removal of organs.

Reading the agreement, I'm not convinced that this is an accurate summary. But it's telling that the authors' definition of human bondage involves the "giving or receiving of payments of benefits," which, to my knowledge, has not been a particularly common feature of slavery in the past.

My experiences as a victim of trafficking are chronicled here.

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  1. In other news, academics are accused of being unrealistic and sheltered.

    “It’s as if they all live in an Ivory tower,” one observer wryly opined.

  2. human bondage involves the “giving or receiving of payments or benefits”

    Isn’t that in the Communist Manifesto?

  3. People who have an objection to selling eggs–whether it be moral, feminism-based, or religious–will make up whatever shit they have to to force others to behave the way they want.

    I’m preaching to the choir, but it’s true.

  4. I was just over a wingnut.com where they are saying that all of Gawd’s little snowflakes are precious, unless, of course, they were conceived in Iraq.

  5. acts of trafficking, which include recruitment of persons. Young women are heavily recruited for their eggs. One Google search would confirm this.

    Hmm, and I thought Dan T was joking with the “Google search as a scientific index” routine.

  6. acts of trafficking, which include recruitment of persons

    So when the headhunters pester me about changing jobs, they’re actually engaging in human trafficking and should be arrested? I suppose I could report them, but it’ll make it difficult to get new offers.

  7. “Sadly, egg donation has less to do with altruism and more to do with the exploitation of women-particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet.”

    So doing something for profit rather than out of altruism is automatically suspect?

    Apparently First Things has merged with Z, and no one noticed any difference.

  8. Chickens are egg donors who don’t act out of altruism.

    Arrest Frank Perdue!

  9. So I went to law school and incurred around $150k in debt. As a result, I have to work at a law firm which requires long hours and tedious work. I have a resource that my employer wants (the ability to perform specialized legal tasks) and my decision to come to work each morning has less to do with altruism and more to do with paying off my large debt. Clearly there are two conclusions to be reached from my situation:

    1.) I’m being exploited.

    2.) The only way to prevent this exploitation is to make it illegal for me to provide legal services to my employer, which will obviously leave me better off than I am now.

  10. Damn Kerry.
    What a way with words you have.
    What it does for me to read the things you write.
    I would suffer the greatest hardship for your slightest favor.

  11. Not only is buying a few egg cells human trafficking, where is the outrage for the millions of sperm cells routinely bought and sold in the world.

    Oh wait.

    Sadly, egg donation has less to do with altruism and more to do with the exploitation of women-particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet.

    It’s about girls, not men. Girls are so easily exploited. Just show a girl a shiny bauble and all of her sense is gone. Men aren’t like that. We have to protect the emotionally fragile adult girls.

  12. Item 1 for these pukles don’t know jack:

    . . . particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts . . .

    Gimmie a freaking break! I had no idea what large debts were until I was no longer “poor”. I could not even get loans when I was “poor”. Wait until they are old, with 2 mortgages on the same residence, then they might kno what large debts are. Then again, very few “comma placement” majors end up in my ‘situation’. Then again, I was never a woman, poor or not, so perhaps there are special rules for lending to women that I am not familiar with?

    ed covered the second point I noticed, in that superb comment #2.

    Comment #1 is also my conclusion.

    this is such an efficient forum, when the right people are involved.

  13. Of course, egg donors aren’t slavers or traffickers. Congress, being morons, wants to fit things into the slavery paradigm.

    What this *is* about is that it is desirable taht children be raised by its parents, vis, a mother and a father, who should preferably be married to each other.

    This ideal situation is not always attainable. There is always divorce, desertion, adultery, rape, spousal abuse, child abuse, single parenthood, and the whole catalogue of social ills which cause kids to be raised in less than ideal circumstances.

    Legalzed egg donation is basically saying that it’s OK for kids not to be raised with both parents – that there shouldn’t even be a *norm* in favor of such a thing.

  14. Oh, Warren.

    Hmm, and I thought Dan T was joking with the “Google search as a scientific index” routine.

    And what do you want to bet they ban their students from using Wikipedia as a source?

  15. Please note that the foregoing post includes spelling errors. This is for your benefit – go to town on the errors!

  16. I’m picturing Warty showing up on Kerry’s doorstep wearing nothing but a pair of handcuffs and a gagball.

  17. Warren not Warty, doh

  18. Mad max,

    Who said anything about egg donation being about single adults getting to have children. Care to provide some backup for that assertion?

    I think you will find that most people who avail themselves of fertility services are married couples who are desperate for children.

  19. So, when a high school grad, with limited opportunities in this case, is approached by a recruiter, joins the military, gets paid a shit load of signing bonus money and then ships off to basic training the military has just become involved in human trafficking?

  20. So, when a high school grad, with limited opportunities in this case, is approached by a recruiter, joins the military, gets paid a shit load of signing bonus money and then ships off to basic training the military has just become involved in human trafficking?

    I am pretty sure the bunch in question would love to include that in their definition. The exception, of course, would be countries that don’t really pay their soldiers and they get a free red star on their uniforms, then all is just fine.

  21. Liberal Philosophy in a nutshell: “no rational person could make a decision that I find immoral, therefore he/she must have been coerced into doing whatever it is that he/she choose to do”

  22. And don’t forget that some of those eggs could be trafficked to [sfx: organ flourish] homosexuals.

    Sure that’s one of padre Neuhaus’ worst nightmares.

  23. I would suffer the greatest hardship for your slightest favor.

    Balls, meet broken glass!

  24. Taktix(r): That troll was banished, don’t summon it unless YOU want to deal with it. The Urkobolds have abandoned us.

    Guy Montag: “…red star…”. Good one.

    Kinnath: Uh, “First Things” is a conservative christian journal, edited by a catholic priest. Anything but liberal.

  25. So, when a high school grad, with limited opportunities in this case, person is approached by a recruiter an employer, joins the military, gets paid a shit load of signing bonus money and then ships off to basic training and accepts the job, the military employer has just become involved in human trafficking?

    Yes.

  26. Kinnath: Uh, “First Things” is a conservative christian journal, edited by a catholic priest. Anything but liberal.

    I thought of that after I posted, but I stand by my post. I posit that “conservative christians” are not “conservative”.

    If liberalism is “using the state to make the world a better place”, then liberals have two sub-groups. The first groups wants to protect people from the evils of unbriddled free markets. The second group wants to protect people from the evils of their own bad decision making. While those two groups do overlap on some topics, they are not identical.

  27. Is it illegal to serve/eat a bunch of human eggs on a cracker? Even if you are not a member of the Donner party?

  28. So, employing a woman to do anything is human trafficking? Who knew?

  29. You sort of have to appreciate the irony of a group calling itself “hands off our ovaries” trying to tell other women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies, don’t you?

  30. Rimfax, thank you! Yet more Leftist irony, they want women to stay home, give birth and cook for free. Unelss they have a free abortion, of course.

  31. But it’s telling that the authors’ definition of human bondage involves the “giving or receiving of payments of benefits

    See, I TOLD you capitalism was bondage.

    Rise up, my people! Throw off the chains of the bourgeoisie!

  32. Sadly, house cleaning has less to do with altruism and more to do with the exploitation of women-particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet.

    In fact, we contend that vaccuming and dusting are the newest form of human trafficking.

  33. In fact, we contend that vaccuming and dusting are the newest form of human trafficking.

    Wow, my taste in women is kinkier than I ever thought!

  34. And don’t forget that some of those eggs could be trafficked to [sfx: organ flourish] homosexuals.

    That’s all well and good, but where’s the fetus going to gestate? Are they going to keep it in a box?

  35. You created me, Mom. So I guess you’re to blame. For the love that I feel! Just from hearing your name. You’re as tender as corn-beef and warm as pastrami!
    I wuv my mommy!

    Throw off the chains of human oppression comrades!

  36. “I think you will find that most people who avail themselves of fertility services are married couples who are desperate for children.”

    I’m not sure how that defeats my point. Egg donors give their eggs to be fertilized by some man, and the resulting child is raised by some person or persons other than the donor. Thus, the resulting child is not being raised by its mother.

  37. I’m not sure how that defeats my point. Egg donors give their eggs to be fertilized by some man, and the resulting child is raised by some person or persons other than the donor. Thus, the resulting child is not being raised by its mother.

    Biologically no. Legally, yes. Tell an adoptee that is not his mother. Then duck.

  38. How did a libertarian critique of something stupid published by a conservative magazine become a Powerline-style “conservatives are always right, liberals are always wrong” thread?

  39. “Biologically no. Legally, yes. Tell an adoptee that is not his mother. Then duck.”

    I’m afraid this isn’t responsive to the main point. Once a child is in existence, it should get the best upbringing available, and if the actual mother isn’t there to give it, then some other arrangement must be found. Of course children ought to bond with their adoptive mothers and fathers – it’s great when that happens, which it often does.

    The question about egg donation is this: whether we should deliberately arrange, in advance, that children will be called into existence who will be raised without their biological mothers.

  40. Thus, the resulting child is not being raised by its mother.

    Next up, banning adoption as “human trafficking.”

  41. Mad Max:

    What makes a biological mother more fit for motherhood than the adoptive mother? Hormones released during pregnancy? Genes?

    Why is it more right that the biological mother raise a child than the adoptive one?

  42. I think it’s a good idea for Kerry to donate her eggs. The world needs more hot, smart chicks.

  43. particularly young women and often poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet.

    And the doofus folks writing this drivel haven’t figured out that allowing “poor women who are usually facing large debts or just trying to make ends meet” to sell eggs that will otherwise be thrown away might actually solve their economic problem?

    Legalzed egg donation is basically saying that it’s OK for kids not to be raised with both parents – that there shouldn’t even be a *norm* in favor of such a thing.

    You would have a point if these folks wanted to make donation illegal, but they don’t. They just want to make sure the woman involved doesn’t get anything more tangible than a warm fuzzy.

    Thus, the resulting child is not being raised by its mother.

    Sorry, not true. I work with abused and neglected children. Being raised by a biological mother and father isn’t nearly as good for a kid as being raised by a loving mother and father. Or two loving mothers or two loving fathers. Or a loving single parent. And any loving parents are better than state-run care, as necessary as that sometimes is.

    The question about egg donation is this: whether we should deliberately arrange, in advance, that children will be called into existence who will be raised without their biological mothers.

    The question about egg donation is this: whether a woman who wants to donate or sell an egg to a would-be mother who desperately wants to bear and raise a child should be prohibited from doing so because you think it’s icky. The libertarian answer is “Yes, and you should MYOB.”

  44. That’s all well and good, but where’s the fetus going to gestate? Are they going to keep it in a box?

    Surrogate. (Actually, most surrogacy now involves a woman bearing a child who is not genetically related to her – either she’s carrying the genetic child of the couple hiring her, or she’s carrying a child conceived using a donor egg. Makes things easier legally – in several states, surrogates have no legal rights to children they bear if they aren’t the genetic mothers.) I know of a few children conceived by gay men through the donor egg/surrogate route. They all seem to have the normal number of heads et al.

    Not only is buying a few egg cells human trafficking, where is the outrage for the millions of sperm cells routinely bought and sold in the world.

    Well, to be fair, donating eggs is a far different process from a mechanical point of view than donating sperm. Sperm donors jack off into a cup (essentially). Egg donors inject themselves with high doses of hormones with unknown long-term effects, suffer physical and emotional side effects from being injected with those hormones, and then have to have the eggs retrieved from their ovaries via medical instrumentation.

    But that’s why egg donors get paid more than sperm donors. The marketplace evens things out. As a woman, I’m perfectly happy to have the marketplace even things out, and I view removing that compensation as something akin to oppression/discrimination. You can certainly make an argument – not one I’d agree with, but an argument – that egg donation should be regulated more closely than sperm donation because it poses a potential risk to women’s health, everything from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome to coma/death, whereas regular sperm donation doesn’t. But that’s not the argument being laid out here.

    (I’m still shaking my head about the fact that stem cell researchers seem to think that they can obtain sufficient eggs for their research without paying donors. Because paying donors would be wrong/unethical/coercive! Sure, tons of women are going to jack themselves up with hormones and undergo invasive medical procedures just for the thrill of knowing that they’ve helped science. Right. I have a bridge to sell you in Brooklyn…)

  45. Apparently, marion is unfamiliar with the classics.

  46. Egg donation is no picnic. The hormone treatments are unpleasant and, for someone like me with a high risk of breast cancer can also be dangerous. Donors should absolutely be compensated. I’m not even poor or in debt, but I’d do it if my health weren’t at stake.

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