Demand Rises For Egg Donation In Face of Adversaries

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The demand for egg donation is up nearly 20 percent, despite legislation proposals and media backlash aimed against this form of assisted reproductive technology.

More Egg Donations in 2010 Than The Last 3 Years Combined

Egg donation is a form of reproductive technology which has been around for more than 20 years. Between 2000 and 2006 the number of children born as a result of egg donation in the US doubled and has continued to rise since. Representative from he Center for Human Reproduction in New York, Yu Kizawa, reported that in 2010 there were “more egg donation cycles preformed than in the preceding three years combined”. In fact, egg donation now comprises almost 10% of all IVF cycles reported in the United States. However, despite it's increasing popularity it still remains a controversial, if not taboo, method of conception both in the US and worldwide.

Understanding Egg Donation

Egg donation is a form of assisted reproductive technology for women who are unable to become pregnant using their own eggs. This situation can come as a result of many etiologies, not just aging. For example, a woman may loose her ovarian function due to cancer, chemotherapy, radiation treatment, or surgery. There are also several conditions such as Diminished Ovarian Reserve or Premature Ovarian Failure which can damage a woman's ability to become pregnant using her eggs long before she is even thinking of starting a family. In some rare cases, some women also may choose egg donation as an alternative to natural conception in order to prevent passing along known genetic disorders to their children.

The “Egg Donation Industry”

Despite the good the egg donation has brought to infertile couples, many still have strong feelings against the practice. The most common topic of debate is the financial compensation that is given to women as payment for their time and effort during the donation process. Women, typically between the ages of 18 and 30, are recruited to be potential egg donors by being offered financial payment. Unlike sperm donation, women must go through a lengthy process which requires frequent doctors visits, medications, lifestyle modifications, and a surgical procedure. The ethics committee for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine says that this compensation is not only appropriate, but recommended. However, they also state that any compensation beyond 5,000 dollars requires “justification” and beyond 10,000 dollars is excessive. There is no law to regulate how much a woman can be paid.

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Some believe that even modest payments could cloud the judgment of young women with financial burdens and lead them to donate eggs when they otherwise wouldn't. As a result several states, including Arizona and California, have pushed legislation banning the payment for egg donors.

Industry experts argue, however, that banning payments for egg donors will dramatically drop the the amount of donors as happened in the UK in 2004 when a ban was enforced. Canada has also prohibited donor compensation, thus forcing potential recipients to wait excruciating long periods before ever receiving a donated egg. Furthermore, the suggestion that the judgment of adult women is be so clouded by money that it must be made illegal has furiously been argued by pro-egg donation communities.

The result of these types of laws banning financial compensation for egg donation or the donation all together has not been that couples choose to adopt or go childless, but rather they seek out egg donors in foreign countries such as Eastern Europe and the US. Thus egg donation has become one of the most common reasons for medical tourism.

Looking Forward

Medical experts argue that the reality is egg donation in the United States is not only legal but safe. As with any other tissue donation or elective surgical procedure there are potential risks, however they are minimal. The safety of the procedure is highly regulated by the government and clinics are held to strict legal requirements to fully inform the donor of the risks of the procedure.

The regulation and safety of egg donation along with the ability for payments to be made to donors has allowed for this industry to flourish. The reproductive technology sector now nets over 3 billion dollars annually, a large part now due to the growing industry of egg donation.

Resources:
American Society for Reproductive Medicine and Center for Human Reproduction

Image Source: Morguefile

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