First prize: donor eggs!

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An infertility clinic in Virginia stirred a debate last week by sponsoring a contest in which the prize was a free cycle of in vitro fertilization using eggs from a US woman. The seminar, which was in London, was hosted by the Genetics & IVF Institute and sought to entice British women to consider American donor eggs.

One side of the argument was that the contest violated the spirit of the European Union law that prevents women from being compensated for their eggs -- which is strange since no one here was compensated for the donor eggs. The European law has been problematic in that it doesn’t stop women from travelling to other countries to purchase eggs, but it has restricted the numbers of European egg donors and reduced the supply of available eggs for in vitro fertilization. Some clinics are taking advantage of the supply and demand inequity to promote their services.

According to the Washington Post, the seminar “drew intense criticism from infertility experts, bioethicists and others” in the US and Britain. Many “likened the event to a crass, commercial come-on similar to a lottery, with the prize being a human body part.”

It’s a slippery slope described by Jonathan Moreno, a bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania. “If you commodify body parts, including reproductive materials, who’s going to be selling them? It’s going to be the poor. And who’s going to be buying them? It’s going to be the rich.”

The seminar and its prize were defended by the Genetic & IVF Institute. They said these seminars are popular and widely used to educate women about their options, especially since local egg supply is so low. Harvey Stern, the clinic’s director, said, “The offer of a free treatment cycle or package of treatment is not an unusual technique… This is just a niche we saw to offer this service.”

It appears none of the women participants were complaining.

Source: Washington Post, Boston Globe, Medical News Today


 
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