Solving a Bioethical Conundrum In My Spare Time and For Free

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What's fair? What the market will bear.

Over in Britain, the British Medical Journal reports that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is puzzled about how much to pay women for selling their eggs to the infertile. Apparently, the current regulated price is $390 and not too surprisingly, this cap has produced a shortage. As the BMJ reports:

Clinicians and egg donors have signalled their support for a rise in the amount of compensation paid to women who donate eggs to infertile women in the United Kingdom, as the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority prepares to launch a public consultation on the subject.

Five of six speakers at a debate organised by the Progress Educational Trust and held at the Royal Society of Medicine on 20 October put forward arguments for removing the current cap of £250 (€280; $390) compensation for loss of earnings, although there was no agreement on where any new level should be set.

Well, always being one to help out, let me suggest that solving the problem is really, really simple: Let people voluntarily sell and buy human eggs for whatever price the market will bear. There. Ethical dilemma resolved and at no cost to British taxpayers.

See Kerry Howley's excellent Reason article in which she describes what was involved in selling her own eggs.

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  1. Sorry Ron.

    How DARE you suggest that an individual make this decision for themselvews without the helpful guidance of an all knowing, all loving centeral state to look after them. Why do you keep to this foolish notion that an individual can make the best coice. Tsk, tsk, tsk……

    Report to the reeducation camp.

  2. But then poor women might be tempted to sell their eggs for a living.

    Which would be bad for some reason.

    1. It would be bad because no one would buy them. Read the Howley piece. Poor people tend to be less attractive, less educated and lower scoring on standardized tests.

      My picture was included in a donor database, a mail-order bride catalog with SAT scores. The Web-based list runs over 100 women long, listing our heights, weights, ages (all of us between 21 and 32), asking prices, standardized test scores, blood types, academic degrees, and whether we’d donated before. Later, I would find myself referred to as “Donor #15.”

      1. Oh, you mean it would lower their self esteem even more.

        I see.

        1. Nah, just give them the incentive to act like people at online dating sites, and totally fake their profiles. If everyone can be a smokin hot blonde, why can’t they all be MIT trained Astrophysicists with a JD from Northwestern?

  3. The depressing reality is that Ron clearly has detailed the most efficient and logical answer to this conundrum, which is exactly why the UK nanny state will choose the diametrically opposed option of price caps.

  4. I see ads in Craigslist every day soliciting egg donors from various races. Prices vary considerably. Some of the ads are quite explicit in their desired genetic material. I’m surprised that some enterprising and ambitious AG hasn’t tried to shut them down on the grounds of racial discrimination or human trafficking.

    1. Clump of cells trafficking.

  5. Over in Britain, the British Medical Journal reports that the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority is puzzled about how much to pay women for selling their eggs to the infertile. Apparently, the current regulated price is $390 and not too surprisingly, this cap has produced a shortage.

    Hey progressives, what was it you were saying about reproductive choice now?

    1. One would think that reproductive choice should be honored throughout the entire reproductive cycle. But that would mean that one thinks politicians are not hypocrites. If you believe this, consider investing in my unicorn ranch.

      1. Do your unicorns shit kittens? If not, I’m not intersted.

        1. My unicorns shit rainbow striped kittens.

          1. That’s one hell of an investment then!

            1. My unicorns shit paper bags of unicorn poo so you can set them on fire and leave them on people’s porches on Halloween.

    2. I’m amazed that progressives are for any form of reproductive choice because all evidence indicates that they don’t acknowledge someone’s right to self-ownership and even go out of their way to vilify it.

      1. It’s not the “choice” progressives like, it’s the baby killing.

        1. Yes, that’s exactly it. Progressives are obnoxious enough; you don’t need to go around making moronic hyperbolic statements about them.

        2. How much is the progressive support of Roe v. Wade is based solely on the fact that it pisses off conservatives? And are progressives going to feel like idiots after they’ve taken out all the supports for individualism and self-ownership in instituting nationalized healthcare and some future congress full of Glenn Becks and Sarah Palins votes to defund all abortion operations?

    3. They believe people can and should choose not to reproduce. This helps further that goal, so presumably they are thrilled.

  6. When I was really poor & in college, I looked into this briefly. Even the ~$20k that young, fit, genetically desirable egg factories such as myself could expect was not enough to outweigh the scariness of being pumped full of hormones for 2 months, inconvenient doctor visits, etc. I’m amazed anyone does it for a few hundred bucks.

    1. A few hundred bucks will buy you a nice condo in Guizhou Province.

    2. Be honest. They just wouldn’t take you because of that extra chromosome.

      1. Your mongoloid fetish extends beyond a fondness for Devo, doesn’t it?

        1. It’s not really a fetish. It’s just that no woman with the normal number of chromosomes will “date” Epi without being paid. 😉

          1. My name’s Episiarch. Ep for short.

            http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082075/

            BTW, did you know Judy Garland was Liza Minelli’s mother?

          2. I’ll have you all know that I’d never have sex with a woman whose IQ was lower than 70–I leave them for Warty. But above that is fair game. Even one point above.

            1. And here we thought that state of unconciousness was the only qualifying factor. I, for one, feel silly at this point.

    3. I understand that they won’t take you unless you’ve previously been pregnant.

        1. Someone who has been pregnant previously, or who has had a donation that previously lead to a live birth is a proven producer.

          1. Correct. They want to know for sure that your eggs are fertile before they bother to harvest them.

  7. But, if the price goes up to market levels, only rich people will be able to have them on their toast!

    ;P

    1. Win.

  8. But, if the price goes up to market levels, only rich people will be able to have them on their toast!

    Threadwinner!

  9. Solving a Bioethical Conundrum In My Spare Time and For Free

    What are you, some kind of Communist?

    1. The application also asked, “What is the least amount of compensation you will consider accepting for an egg donation?” Elsewhere, the agency stated that it would not accept requests of more than $10,000. So I typed in: $10,000.

      Howley certainly isn’t. All things considered, requesting the max is shrewd. I didn’t realize being a donor took so much injection and travel and more injection.

  10. It seems logical (and obvious) to me that some women’s eggs are more valuable than others. Let the bidding commence.

  11. This is yet another problem that could easily be solved by my “none of my effin’ business” political platform. Like the “rent is too damn high” political party, my political platform is limited to one answer:

    Q: How much should be paid for an egg donor.

    Cyto: None of my damn business.

    See how easy that is?

  12. This is the best title in the history of reason magazine.

  13. One thing that irritates me about discussion on this topic is that infertility treatment is treated as somehow medically necessary.

  14. I’m from the UK (stumbled on here accidentally, as it were). I feel I ought to clear something up. These women are not being paid directly for their eggs, as it is illegal to buy and sell human eggs in the UK. They are being paid for loss of earnings and inconvenience (and it *is* an inconvenient procedure). Therefore, an open market on human eggs would be impossible without a change in the law. The law ostensibly exists to prevent exploitation and to control what those eggs are used for.

    Of course, the market has found a way around this. Some private fertility clinics are offering women whose eggs are sound, but otherwise cannot conceive free treatment if they consent to “share” their eggs with other customers of the clinic. This free treatment is worth thousands of pounds.

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