Fertility Financing: Are Egg Donors Overpaid?

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In recent years, the demand for egg donors has increased and with it, so have the asking prices. Healthy women in their 20s can often earn as much as $10,000 for each egg they donate, and sometimes that price will double or triple depending on the donor’s ethnicity or SAT scores.

However, according to The New York Times, this booming market may be in need of some more regulation. The Times cites a recent study from The Hastings Center, a bioethics research institute, which found that many donor agencies are offering more money than is allowed.

“In the study, Dr. Aaron Levine, an assistant professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, examined more than 100 egg donation ads from 63 college newspapers. He found that a quarter of them offered compensation exceeding the $10,000 maximum cited in voluntary guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional association,” The Times reports.

Yes, it’s a free market, but officials worry that big price tags might blind women to all the potential health risks that come from donating eggs. That is why the guidelines require that any payments more than $5,000 “require justification” and in general, payments over $10,000 “are not appropriate.” What’s more, the ASRM guidelines “forbid paying additional fees to egg donors for specific traits.” Yet, this language pops up in ads all the time.

Unfortunately, the ASRM only has jurisdiction over fertility clinics, and not egg donation agencies, which is why the latter tends to violate these guidelines more than the former.

Now, as long as we are renegotiating deals here, I’d like to lobby for a bit more compensation for sperm donors. Sure, the process is much easier than donating eggs (which requires women to submit to weeks of daily injections of hormones and other drugs), but is it really fair that we get paid less than $50 for our efforts? After all, American sperm is so in demand that other countries like Australia are actually importing it. I’m just saying…

For more information about the process of becoming an egg donor, check out this MainStreet article.

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