One of my favorite bloggers, Pam Madsen, provides a compelling retort to the brouhaha sparked by recent news accounts of egg donors receiving “excessive” compensation:
Nobody in the fertility field likes to draw too much attention to egg donor compensation – and the issues that surrounds it. It is bad for business – and it could be bad for couples that need donor eggs to build their families. Over my many years of working as a fertility advocate – egg donor compensation has always been a hot button issue. Everyone likes the idea that women who donate their eggs do it completely out of the goodness of their heart…because they are motivated and drawn to helping infertile women have a child. And, many of them may feel really good about that part of the equation. But the hard facts are – in countries where there is no egg donor compensation there are few egg donors. Egg donor compensation is crucial for keeping egg donation alive.
Egg donation also remains a way for young women with few financial resources to raise between $8,000 and $10,000 in a relatively short period of time. Some egg donors do this over and over again – traveling from one center to another with no one tracking their donation history. And there have always been rumors of some young women being paid much higher numbers to correspond with their SAT scores, good looks, and where they are enrolled in college. Doesn’t sound pretty – does it? Well, sometimes it’s not.
A recent article from CNN reports on the recent rise of potential egg donors across the country.
The women profiled in the story are quite clear – they need the money to make ends meet. Now – not just anyone can be an egg donor. Egg donors have to go through a rigorous physical and psychological screening process – but how do we feel about women being so highly motivated by compensation? Does it matter? Should anyone care that the numbers of egg donors have risen with a falling economy? Do we need even more safety checks in the system to make sure that these women truly understand that while they are fixing short term economic problems in their lives – that they are making life time decisions about giving up their genetic material. Desperate people do desperate things – and do we want desperate egg donors who are lured in by big compensation dollars?
Today more than ever – all of us in the “baby making business” have to be more vigilant than ever in managing the lines between fair compensation and enticement. Because as we all know – the compensation will be spent – and the decisions that these women are making now more than ever out of financial stress – are decisions that they will have to live with for a life time.