Anything Wrong with Raffling Off Human Eggs?

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egg donation ad

Today's Washington Post reports that a bioethical tiff broke out when a Virginia fertility clinic raffled off—as an incentive to attend a London infertility seminar—a free cycle of in vitro fertilization using donor eggs. Cash value: $23,000. According to the Post:

The seminar, designed to entice infertile British women to seek donor eggs in the United States, drew intense criticism from infertility experts, bioethicists and others in Britain and the United States, who likened the event to a crass, commercial come-on similar to a lottery, with the prize being a human body part.

The fertility bureaucrats in Britain were especially not amused.

"We strongly have the view that using a raffle to determine who will receive treatment with donor eggs is inappropriate," said a spokesman for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which regulates infertility care in Britain. "It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos.

Well, actually someone needs to tell the HFEA busybody that eggs are legally bought and sold in the U.S. (usually for thousands of dollars) and infertility treatments are generally paid for out-of-pocket by patients. The Post did note in passing that European policies do produce fertility treatment shortages:

European countries, including Britain, prohibit payment for eggs and limit the amount of money a donor can receive to a small amount to cover minor expenses. The result is that eggs are much more difficult to obtain in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, leading increasing numbers of women to travel to the United States.

The Post quotes Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, as saying:

"This is just about patients trying to get access to treatment they need. If they can win a contest that is going to allow them to build their families, and a physician is going to offer a service that can help them do that, then we applaud them."

I applaud them too. As my wife pointed out over breakfast, if the woman who won the lottery had any moral objections to the proceedings, she needn't have put her name in the hat in the first place.

One further observation: If you want to participate in a real organ lottery, just wait until you need a transplant organ allocated by the United Network for Organ Sharing in the U.S.

For more information, please read my colleague Kerry Howley's excellent article "Ova for Sale" on her own egg selling experience.

Disclosure: I have attended a conference put on by the fertility clinic featured this article, the Genetics and IVF Institute, and they bought me a really nice dinner, too. At the dinner I had the privilege of talking for a considerable period of time with Bob Edwards who, along with Patrick Steptoe, jumpstarted IVF when their work resulted in the birth of the first "test tube" baby, Louise Joy Brown, in 1978.

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  1. “Anything Wrong with Raffling Off Human Eggs?”

    No. Just as long as they are also raffling off human bacon and toast.

  2. Yet another example of how most “bioethics” is a load of crap.

    They can’t point to one single person who is hurt by this. Every single person involved in it is there because they want to be. Because of this, it looks like a woman who would not have had this procedure will have one.

    Their response to what looks like a net gain caused by voluntary action:

    It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos.

    How does it trivialize altruistic anything? There is nothing that you can donate (other than organs) that you cannot also sell. Does this mean that all charitable donations are trivial?

    Idiots, one and all.

    1. I can point to one single person who might be hurt by this – the child who is born as a result. We get far too distracted by what the parents want and forget we are creating a future adult. I don’t say they WILL be hurt, just that the implications need to be considered from their perspective – they are the only person involved who had no choice.

      1. No, actually they will be hurt. Whomever is born from this will be hurt, repeatedly, by the process of being alive. It’s a feature, not a bug.

        That this is even a consideration is even sillier than the reported protests.

      2. While some philosophers, poets and democratic congressmen may disagree, I claim that existence >> inexistence.

      3. Jenny, I got your number,
        I need to make you mine.
        Jenny, don’t change your number,
        8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)
        8-6-7-5-3-0-9 (8-6-7-5-3-0-9)

        1. Watch it, Episiarch. You may get banned by a young, overly zealous, um, One Who Bans.

        2. I will destroy you for putting that song in my head.

          1. Once again, I win all.

      4. I can point to one single person who might be hurt by this – the child who is born as a result.

        But any hurt he may experience will not be as a result of his mother getting eggs via a raffle rather than via natural generation, bureaucratic dispensation, or purchase.

  3. Stupid joke handle.

    1. I fear your enemies may now refer to you as “Nancy.”

      1. All of his male lovers do.

    2. “And everyone knew him as Nancy.”

      1. Betty Joe?

    3. From now on, Nancy, you shall be referred to as “Nancy”. Or possibly “Sissy Nancy”.

    4. and the Iron Laws shall henceforth be referred to as Nancy’z Iron Laws

    5. Bite me.

      1. Lighten up, Nancy.

      2. By enemies, I was thinking one of our trolls or something. Not the entire commentariat.

    6. All I want to know|3.17.10 @ 2:58PM|#
      What a bore you are, Rc. Is that really supposed to be impressive?

      I take it back. I find it a little hot that you wore a dress;-)

  4. “We strongly have the view that using a raffle to determine who will receive treatment with donor eggs is inappropriate,”

    “because it diminishes our control over the process.”

  5. “We strongly have the view that using a raffle to determine who will receive treatment with donor eggs is inappropriate,” said a spokesman for the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, which regulates infertility care in Britain. “It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos”.

    I just ran that through Babel Fish, here’s the result –

    We at the Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority are the only people in the entire United Kingdom ethical enough to decide who gets donated human eggs. It’s all about protecting our turf.

  6. Anything Wrong with Raffling Off Human Eggs?

    I, for one, would be opposed to human omlettes.

    1. Don’t knock ’em until you try ’em.

  7. “It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos.”

    I feel certain that if an egg donor wanted to donate rather than sell her eggs, the receipient would not find that trivial at all. Just because a person CAN get paid for this, she is also free not to get paid if she is just feeling super-altruistic.

  8. It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos.

    “We should ban this based on how it makes me feel, as I am the most important person on Earth”.

  9. Fascinating. I wonder if you feel a bit used now that time has passed. They really don’t sell the process for what it is: a cold business transaction that involves young girls in need of cash.

    1. “a cold business transaction that involves young girls in need of cash consenting adults.”

      Fixed that for ya.

    2. Somebody’s getting old and bitter because her eggs are running out! Look, rctl, don’t hate on the young girls for having egg reserves. Someone will love you for who you are, regardless.

      (stifles laugh)

      1. Epi, presume away. I know one thing for sure: Epi is old and has never celebrated steak and BJ day. Btw, my man calls that Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday2.

        1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

          Nothing beats the “I am teh sexxor on teh intertubes” response. One question: is “your man” real?

          1. My life is very real and have you googled steak and BJ day yet? Poor little Epi, do you need a link?

            1. You do realize that “I give my man teh orel plezure” routine is about as original as “I will kick ur ass” routine, right? Try harder. HARDER.

              1. Honey, does you wife tell you that none of her friends wake up their man at 4am because they love it? No wonder you’re a little bitchy.

                1. ALL WOMEN ARE WHORES. ALL OF THEM.

              2. If she really meant it, she would not have to brag about it. I wonder if rctl has mastered the FGAS for her MySpace page yet.

                1. TAO, It ain’t bragging if …..
                  I could tell you how do get what you want but…

                  1. TRY HARDER.

                    1. “TRY HARDER” No wonder you never get laid.

                  2. I could not possibly have any interest in a female so crass that she would resort to tired boasts that were said in sad desperation.

                    1. fap fap fap 😉

                    2. you know, if you put the photo in high-contrast, rampitup83 won’t be able to see all that acne.

                  3. BTW, I always thought that rctl was just “rectal” in text-speak.

        2. rctl: prolific fellationist

          1. Naw, rectal.

  10. a cold business transaction that involves young girls in need of cash.

    A willing buyer and a willing seller?

    OMFG EVILLLL!

    1. What does her actions tell you? Why did she take her name off the donor list? Why did she wonder about children? Why did the doctor change the subject? Why was the anesthesiologist so nervous? The ‘sale’ does not reflect the reality of the process. I don’t give a fuck that these girls are considered adults.

      1. Are you reading the same story we are?

        1. JW, we both may have read but comprehension is another matter.

          1. That’s readily apparent.

          2. WTF are you talking about?

      2. rctl only wants to protect those poor, young, egg-filled girls. After all, if she doesn’t have any eggs to sell, why should they be allowed to?

  11. I don’t give a fuck that these girls are considered adults.

    Now we’re getting somewhere.

    1. Doesn’t that usually work the other way around?

      “I thought that girl was an adult, officer!”

    2. Yes Jw, I’m a feminist.

      1. That reply was for you PB.

      2. So feminist that you think other women’s choices should be controlled!

        What is that famous feminist mantra? “Pro-…pro-…pro-something”. I’m sure it’ll come to you.

      3. I’m a feminist, so I think that adult women should still be treated like children and not allowed to decide what to do with their own body parts.

        1. Zeb, your old man tits do not make you a feminist. Nice try;-)

          1. oh boy, you are a catch.

            1. TAO, you are so predictable.

            2. I live for her kisses!

          2. rctl: the only hot woman on the internet who is not in porn.

            1. Apparently.

  12. Nothing screams Feminism like the desire to infantilize women and protect them from their base, “self-destructive” impulses.

    1. Nothing screams misogyny like the desire to infantilize women and subject them to the destructive impulses of certain men.

      1. Shouldn’t you be off oppressing someone, somewhere?

      2. Yeah the patriarchy should stop forcing these woman to sell their eggs and give them the right to say no.

        1. After all, the only people who really want these eggs are men. Men use the eggs for their own selfish greedy goals. No women ever buy eggs, or want to.

      3. Subjecting women to the impulses of certain men? Because they can have a fucking choice?

        Maybe you and I have a different definition of “subjecting”.

  13. Does it strike anyone else as odd that they are discussing fertility treatment as if it is a necessary or life saving procedure that women need?
    It may be psychologically troubling to some people not to have the ability to conceive children, but fertility treatment is not necessary by any means. It is a luxury and nothing else. Even if we were to suppose that some medical treatments are too fundamentally important to be left to the market, this is definitely not one of them.

    1. “Does it strike anyone else as odd that they are discussing fertility treatment as if it is a necessary or life saving procedure that women need?”

      Let me be clear. Fertility treatment is necessary. If a woman can’t get pregnant, then she is denied the right to have an abortion.

  14. It trivializes altruistic donation, whether of eggs, sperm or embryos.

    Maybe the problem is because now that they’ve been able to put a price tag on it, Ms. EggMcDonor can’t write off “1 human life” as a charitable deduction on her tax forms.

    Won’t someone here think of the tax cheats?

  15. Getting pregnant with your first child was so “simple,” but now you’re over thirty and it seems just impossible.

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