After we published a story from a reader who had ethical qualms about using a donated egg that became her daughter, a bunch of readers in the TAD discussion group debated the question, “Is egg donation unethical?”—especially since thousands of dollars are typically given to the donor. Below are some of the best comments and personal stories from those readers, edited for concision. Here’s Terri:
My only real concern is compensation. Selling to the highest bidder for significant profit is risky and unseemly. It has to be regulated in a manner that protects both parties.
Another reader takes a more libertarian approach:
As long as all parties consent and the child created is loved and taken care of, then all is good. What’s unethical is bad parenting.
Jim compares egg donation to adoption:
The financial aspect of donation is no more fraught, to my mind, than adoption fees. The stickler is setting a fair price for the not inconsiderable pain and discomfort the donor experiences, as well as screening donors to make sure they are psychologically secure with the process.
Egg donation, fertilization, and implantation is essentially a rich person’s ethical problem, if that. Many women and their partners beggar themselves financially in an effort to become pregnant. If they can afford it and they want to, why not?
This next reader complicates Jim’s characterization that it’s “a rich person’s ethical problem”:
I am part of an IVF support group, with 10,000-plus members, and I’ve undergone IVF myself. The large majority of us are not affluent.
Also, it’s not fair for people who have never struggled with infertility to imply/demand that those of us who suffer from infertility settle with adoption, as if it’s an easy solution. We just want the same chance fertile people have—a chance they didn’t have to fight for or pay for, or suffer from.
Another reader also isn’t troubled by egg donation:
Is it less creepy than adoption? Prospective parents are also given dossiers of babies/kids they would like to consider. It shouldn’t be creepy to “choose” a child. We choose our mates, after all, and the initial attraction is mostly superficial there too. Is a child that arises from such a pairing not “chosen” as well?
It’s not uncommon in egg and sperm donations for people to search for donors who bear some similarity to them. Since the child will not have a genetic connection to the replaced parent, isn’t it better that they at least have some physical similarities? This is supposed to make life easier for the young kid, so they are not wondering why they look different or being teased as school for looking different (young kids can be merciless to their peers).
Finding physical similarities and other preferences is a big part of Gail Sexton Anderson’s job. She runs Donor Concierge, a service that matches intended parents with egg donors and surrogates.
Race and ethnicity is a big part of that process, which Gail addresses in this blog post:
For many intended parents having a sense of continuity within the family blood lines helps them to come to terms with going forward with an egg donor. I have had many intended parents tell me that they would like to find a donor who is Irish, Welsh, Italian etc. so that they can share stories of their heritage with their child and not feel they are being false to their child who shares their family but may not have similar ethnic heritage. ...