This seems a reasonably good follow-up to a post about the egg market from a couple of days ago. I’ll start with some background which you can probably skip if the market for gametes is a subject you are familiar with.
I’ve written a lot about sperm and egg donors here, and about the market for gametes. It’s clear that there are important differences between the market for eggs and that for sperm. Historically one difference has been is that sperm has been banked–collected and frozen for later use–while eggs have not been.
If you stop to think about it, there are many ramifications of this difference. Because you can bank sperm there are independent entities that do nothing but collect, store and sell sperm. Continue reading
Here’s a recent story that revisits some familiar ground. I’ve written before (a number of times though not for quite a while) about the market for gametes in the US. This story reports a recent study that shows that many US organizations recruiting egg donors aren’t adhering to ethical standards. That’s something that ought to worry us, I think.
As the article notes:
Ethical standards set forth by the ASRM specify that donors should be at least 21 years old, and those between ages 18 and 20 should receive a psychiatric evaluation first.
Also, women are not to be paid for their eggs but compensated, equally, for their time. Donor traits such as college grades or previous successful donations should not result in higher payment.
I’m going to focus on the concerns underlying the second paragraph. It seems to me that for many people the idea that women are being compensated for their time and not their eggs seems non-obvious. Continue reading
Once again I have fallen way behind in the comments. It’s the nature of summer, I fear. As before, I will return to them and do my best to get caught up shortly. Many of the topics cycle round regularly so if there are particular points I miss I trust they will be raised again and I’ll have another chance. To the extent this is avoidance (and I know it is) it’s general (all comments) rather than specific (your comment) so please do not take it personally.
At the same time, it is important to me, too, to add new content and continue the trains of thought that wander through my mind even when I’m on vacation. I’ve been thinking about the sorts of major decisions that are often discussed here. Giving a child up for adoption is for me an obvious and enormous one. Or choosing to adopt a child. Related decisions like deciding not to have children (which might include having an abortion). Continue reading
I’ve been trying to work through some of the comments on this post earlier post. (The question at hand there is whether you can formulate a claim that the legal treatment of children conceived with third-party gametes constitutes unlawful discrimination of some sort.) I’m not done yet but I am going to exert my prerogative and put up another new post on the subject. I’ll still try to get back to the rest of the comments on the first post (as well as the ones on the man with 30 children), but I wanted to try to move things a bit forward. I’m inspired to do this by the comments and don’t want to lose the new threads of thought.
As I understand it, the claim people want to advance is that children conceived using third-party gametes are disadvantaged because they have no entitlement to a legal relationship with the people who provided gametes. One thing I’ve been struggling with is that it seems to me that this assumes that those who are not conceived with third-party gametes do have such an entitlement and this actually isn’t true. Thus, it’s hard to say that donor conceived children are treated less well than other children on this ground. Continue reading
A few months ago I blogged about a sad story of a family struggling with their young son’s cystic fibrosis. The boy, Jaxon Kretchmar, was conceived with third-party sperm. The story has now surfaced in the New York Times. Though most of the details were in the earlier post, it’s still a chance to revisit a critical topic.
The facts are fairly simple. Sharine and Brian Kretchmar used third-party sperm in conceiving their second child. They researched carefully and chose a provider from New England Cryogenic Center. The Center represented that the sperm it sold had been tested for a variety of genetic defects, but in fact the sperm the Kretchmar’s chose had been donated years before to a different sperm bank and exactly what testing was done (and how it was done) is at issue. Continue reading
[NB. I know there are comments that I need to review and respond to. I'm posting first and will do those comments later today. Thanks for your patience.]
There’s a front page story in today’s New York Times that certainly caught my attention. I’ve written frequently about frozen sperm and frozen embryos in the past. I’ve also noted that the technology to freeze eggs is now available, though it is not widely used just yet. Clearly it is only a matter of time. The story in today’s NYT is about how parents are sharing the cost of freezing eggs with their adult daughters. Perhaps as much as anything what disturbs me is the title: “So Eager For Grandchildren, They’re Paying the Egg-Freezing Clinic.” Continue reading
I just listened to a fine interview with Anna Quindlen conducted by Terry Gross (that’s Fresh Air). There were a couple of points in the interview that seemed to me to tie in here.
First, Gross asked Quindlen about a time when Quindlen was in her early twenties and wanted to have her tubes tied. She’d been through a very tough time (her mother had died of ovarian cancer and she had become parent to her four younger siblings) and she was sure she didn’t want kids. Continue reading
I read two stories today that put me in mind of the dilemmas presented by our ability to freeze (or cryopreserve) gametes. There’s this story from Israel, which is really more of an op-ed piece and really more of a promotion for this site. And then there’s this essay from today’s Science section in the NYT. They are in many ways quite different but they are also, to my mind, complementary.
In the Times Suleika Jaquad writes about the choices she faces as she embarks on necessary chemotherapy while only in her twenties. While the treatment may save her life it could also destroy her eggs. Thus, if she wants to preserve the ability to have a biologically related child, she has to consider freezing her eggs. Continue reading
I feel like I have gotten myself back on track but before I turn to comments (which I really do expect to do later t0day) I want to round out a thought that cropped up in the post yesterday. For a long time I’ve been dimly aware of a possible paradox that lies at the heart of a lot of use of third-party gametes. I think it’s time to focus on it a bit.
Here is what strikes me. Most people who use third-party gametes use either sperm or eggs and then combine it with their own complementary product. What I mean is that a single woman, a lesbian couple or a heterosexual couple with male infertility issues will use third-party sperm but an egg from the woman (or one of the women) who will be the planned mother. Where the person or people planning to be parents lack an egg (for a variety of reasons) they will use an egg from a third-party but their own sperm. Continue reading
Sorry for the long break. I really had no idea how exhausting a college tour could be–granted that it included wonderful time with many friends. But here I am again. I have not read all the comments people have posted and will get to that. For the moment I need to get myself started up again here. And I’ve got this unfinished thread, too.
Remember this all started with a very interesting study on adoption and the historical transition from secrecy to openness. (I write this as much to remind myself as to remind you.) I wanted to think about what the study might tell us about the current trend away from anonymity as to gamete providers for ART. To do that, I started to think about the ways in which adoption and use of third-party gametes are the same and the ways in which they are different.
The first post was about sameness. Continue reading