The debate over how much money to pay female egg donors is hardly new. Many newspapers and magazines have already written about the question of women selling their eggs, including the New York Times, USA Today, and the Boston Globe but it’s informative to have a debate about the question of how much human eggs are worth.
Here’s video of the ABC News feature on egg donation compensation along with a transcript.
Transcript of ABC News feature “Big Money for Donated Eggs” (originally aired May 11, 2010):
Diane Sawyer: And now an ABC News investigation. The booming business of egg donation and why some people are paying large amounts for specific traits. About 10,000 babies are born each year in this country using donor eggs. And certain women, well now, they can charge a lot. Here’s Sharon Alfonsi.
Sharon Alfonsi: Sarah Gwaltney worked as a model through school. And when she decided to donate her eggs, her good looks proved valuable again.
Sarah Gwaltney: Having some income was very helpful for me at that time in my life.
Sharon Alfonsi: She ended up donating her eggs not once, but six times.
Sarah Gwaltney: In the two years that I did it it was just under $100,000.
Sharon Alfonsi: The Society for Reproductive Medicine, the group that oversees the field, says compensation over $10,000 is not appropriate. They also say women shouldn’t be paid more for their looks or intelligence. But Lynn McDonnell, whose twins came from donor eggs, says parents should be able to pick the traits they want in a donor.
Lynn McDonnell: You want your child to have some resemblance of you and your family. I really picked a girl that’s just a little bit younger and prettier than me.
Sharon Alfonsi: But we wondered, are certain traits worth more than others? So we asked ABC employees to respond to ads to find out.
Rachel: Hey that would be me! Typical Barbie!
Sharon Alfonsi: Rachel was told her eggs were worth more because she’s blonde. Susan was told her degree from Wellesley made her eggs more valuable.
Susan: It would be $25,000. Okay?
Sharon Alfonsi: $25,000. More than $15,000 over the guidelines. We asked ASRM’s Dr. Roger Lobo to watch the tape.
So as you look at this, does this surprise you?
Roger Lobo: I guess it doesn’t surprise me.
Sharon Alfonsi: In fact, a recent study of college newspaper ads found that for every 100 point difference in a university’s average SAT score, the agency advertised an increase of over $2,000 in fees. About a quarter of the ads touted payments over $10,000, with one offering $50,000.
If an agency is operating outside of the guidelines do you have any power to do anything about it?
Dr. Roger Lobo: No, unfortunately we don’t.
Sharon Alfonsi: Because these are private, not government guidelines. And what these agencies are doing is not illegal. And while some critics say donors shouldn’t be paid at all, Sarah Gwaltney disagrees.
Sarah Gwaltney: We live in a free market society and there shouldn’t be a cap.
Sharon Alfonsi: In fact, she’s opening her own donor agency, hoping to match donors with would-be parents willing to pay anything for the priceless gift.
You can read Sharon Alfonsi’s article here.
What do you think about compensating egg donors? Should egg donors be able to sell their eggs for as much money as they can get on the open market, or should we regulate egg donation more?