Ladies! Interested in becoming egg donors?
Oh, you’re fond of the fags, forget it. A bit on the tubby side? Sorry, love, we won’t be calling you back. D’ya have any childhood pics handy? They’ll be handy eye candy when we are flogging your eggs to couples who’ll want a kid just like you! Right, so, when did you graduate from university? I see, you didn’t get into university? Well, for our programme, you must be a university graduate. No, let me be blunt, people who work at the till in their local pub cannot be accepted for an egg donor. Got it? And by the way we haven’t had many requests for egg donors of your ethnicity. So scoot!
This loosely describes the criteria used by IVF clinics to select 'egg donors'/seller of her eggs. Such a clinic that is in the spot light these days is The Genetics & IVF Institute in Virginia.
The business deal between the London Bridge Centre and the Virginia based IVF clinic: British women may be directed from the London Bridge Centre to the US clinic, where ‘donated’/bought-at-huge-prices-eggs are available. This egg-harvesting and selling-for-profit is in fact illegal in Britain. British women may pay £13,000 for an egg and IVF treatment – in America.
The raffle tomorrow, to take place at the London Bridge Centre, is part of a generating business sales plan; a scheme to draw potential ‘egg recipients’/buyers of select eggs, to America for costly IVF treatment that promises the opportunity of designer children. The Evening Standard ran with the headline ‘Fertility clinic raffles human egg to attract new customers.’
Here’s their two stage plan to by-pass British laws. First, the raffle will take place in London. And the ‘winner’ who is planning to become pregnant, will be awarded a human egg and £13,000 of fertility treatment.
Second, the actual treatment will take place in America. This is due to the small fact that selling human eggs for profit is legal in America.
The Daily Mail (a paper that is often unfairly and snootily demeaned as being ‘a chavs paper’) have reported on the ‘fury’ because the IVF clinics are ‘commercialising the miracle of life’ with this human egg tombola.
The Daily Mail has given column inches to Josephine Quintavalle. Quintavalle (of the group Comment on Reproductive Ethics) has this to say; 'the capacity of the IVF industry to commodify human life reaches a new low with this latest deplorable initiative. 'Imagine a child one day finding out that he or she came into being thanks to such a blatantly commercial initiative...These women selling their eggs are taking a huge risk with their health and future fertility simply because they need the money," she said. The Daily Mail also gives the story flesh and bones; they put in the profile pictures of egg donors. The egg donors childhood pictures are nothing short of advertising the genetic potential of women who were sweet-looking children, and have grown up to be successful adults.
About eighteen months ago, back in Ireland, I was in talks with a newspaper about doing an article on the ‘human egg trade’, and why it is becoming so predominant. The newspaper would not run with the story because it was all a bit too icky and irrelevant. You know, selling-eggs-for-profit is so bad taste! Bad taste it may be, but it is still happening and it is still a reality no matter how much we would prefer to think that Stephen King had dreamt it up.
Those of us who disagree with this move for designer children will of course be slighted with the usual rhetoric; that we are not being fair to infertile couples, that if the couples are going to have ‘donor eggs’, then it might as well be the egg of their choice, and that IVF babies are planned and wanted! And also, those women who ‘donate eggs’ – it’s their choice – they can do what they want with their bodies! This cheap rhetoric is based on numerous fallacies. To start with, calling them ‘donor eggs’ is actually very bogus terminology; ‘retail of sex cells’ sounds tactless, but this is a market where the ‘seller’ advertises their genes, and the ‘buyer’ chooses a genetic pool most likely to produce their dream child. Also, the IVF clinics are eager for ‘donors’ but not women without university degrees. Did you ever hear of a healthy person being turned away from donating a kidney because he didn’t have a university degree?
Donna Dickinson’s book Body Shopping is an excellent reference for the history of ‘the egg trade’. It also chronicles the enormous health risks facing women who sell eggs, and of the stealthy ways women are fooled into being ‘harvested’ for eggs.
Furthermore, who says it is just infertile couples who opt for specialist egg buying and designer kids? It’s not surprising that fertile women are abandoning the choice of conceiving surprise children with their own eggs, and are opting for the donor eggs of a ‘university graduate’ with cute childhood snaps. It’s not about having a child per se, but having the ‘best’ child.
And what if a mistake is made at the IVF clinic?
In Belfast a couple have fought a bitter legal battle because the mother was fertilised with mixed race sperm, and she gave birth to a ‘dark’ baby instead of what she specified, white Caucasian.
So, that baby who was born the ‘wrong’ colour to white parents, will have, as part of his history, that his parents sued for damages because of a ‘bungle’ at the IVF clinic. And his dad is emphatic that ‘the mistake’ (the baby’s skin colour) has ‘devastated’ his family. This is the reaction of a hurt customer, who put in an order for a child of a certain race, got a child that didn’t match his wishes, and is so angry that he will take centre stage in the media to protest.
All the while, those of us who lament this process where children become commodities are lampooned as anti-progress.
PS - Reviewing the characteristics that an ‘egg donor’ must possess to be deemed worthy of giving her genetic pool/egg, I’m sure Josef Mengele would approve.