There was an interesting op-ed in the NYT yesterday. It’s about the commercialization of infertility treatment, but I think it makes points that can be understood more broadly. And, somewhat like the adoption story I blogged about yesterday, it makes me think about the importance of trying to put a bigger frame around the problem.
The authors–Miram Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos–are women who pursued/endured “increasingly invasive and often experimental interventions, many of whose long-term health risks are still largely unknown.” The treatments were unsuccessful and eventually Zoll and Tsigndinos decided to stop. This is a decision the women are (now) happy with:
Ending our treatments was one of the bravest decisions we ever made, Continue reading
I’ve been travelling a lot recently and in Anchorage (American Bar Association Family Law Section Meeting) I was on a panel with a doctor who does fertility work in southern California. He mentioned that it was now possible to give a gift certificate that allowed the recipient to have her own eggs frozen. It turns out to be a popular gift from parents to their daughters who are graduating from law school.
The idea here is that the eggs can be harvested when the daughter is young and in her (reproductive) prime and then they can be safely stored away until after she finds Mr. (or maybe Ms?) Right and/or gets her career up and running. It’s a way of stopping–at least for a while–the biological clock. Now, thanks to the wonders of technology and the generosity of her parents, the daughter has a choice. Freezing her eggs lets her have it all.
But I worry about how sometimes choices can be illusory and sometimes something that looks like giving people a choice can be a way of exercising control. Continue reading
Just before Thanksgiving I put up a post about a fertility clinic in CA that is offering pre-made embryos for sale. (This is rather a coarse way of putting it, perhaps, but it makes the point.) There’s a lot to think about here and there have been a number of thoughtful comments. I wanted to return to the topic and offer a few further thoughts to continue the conversation.
First, for those who think that selling eggs and sperm is wrong, this too is obviously wrong. I think it is fair to say that for those people it is wrong for the same reasons selling sperm and eggs would be wrong–and there are a whole array of reasons. While I think there is an important conversation here–about the propriety of selling sperm/eggs–it is one that has already received extensive attention here.
This why I want to focus on why those who are comfortable with a market for eggs/sperm might nevertheless draw the line at the market for pre-made embryos. Continue reading
First off a Happy Thanksgiving to all of you. It’s been a long fall from my point of view and I’ve been less then satisfied with my ability to get posts up here. Things might improve a little with the end of the semester but of course, only time will really tell. In the meantime, I appreciate all of your patience and your participation.
Now, this story from the LA Times caught my eye. It’s about a new frontier in ART marketing.
Generally if someone is going to do IVF they provide the sperm and eggs which are then combined in a lab to create pre-embryos. If people are not using their own gametes they generally obtain sperm and/or eggs from banks or clinics. There’s been lots of discussion here about that process of shopping for gametes and it’s good to keep that in mind. Continue reading
I have been thinking about this story from yesterday’s NYT. (I think it was yesterday as it marked “Sunday Review” but the date on it is November 3. In any event, I only saw the on-line version.) I found it both sad and disturbing and I assume my reaction was not unlike that of many other people.
The essay, by Susan Straight, portrays the life of C, a neighbor of Straight’s. C is something like a professional surrogate. She’s been pregnant for other couples three times. She has been paid a total of $115,000. While that is doubtless a lot of money, the day to day circumstances of her last pregnancy weren’t pretty and nothing in this story would make you want to rush out and be a surrogate. Indeed, I think it is hard to finish the essay without a feeling that something is wrong with this picture.
And what is it that is wrong? Continue reading
Yesterday’s NYT has a story about fertility services being offered as prizes in variously structured contests. I’ve written about this idea a couple of times in the past couple of years–once a couple of years ago when a UK clinic offered a IVF as a door prize and more recently when there was a Facebook contest with free IVF as the reward.
Yesterday’s story suggests that these were just early instances of what is becoming a more widespread phenomenon. All manner of prize-oriented promotions are cropping up–video essay contests, raffles, lotteries, race sponsorships and so on. It makes perfect sense, really. As Douglas Quenqua, who wrote the NYT piece, notes:
The people who stage the raffles say that both sides benefit: one woman gets free treatment, and the sponsor gets publicity. Continue reading
As I’ve written in the past, there have been persistent reports of sperm shortages in the UK and Canada. The stories–particularly the ones from the UK–are vexing as people draw causal links that seem to me to be unwarranted. (In particular, people related the UK sperm shortage to a change in UK law regarding anonymity despite the fact there appear to be more donors since the law took effect.)
Anyway here’s a very brief story about another reported sperm shortage–one new to me. This time it is in China. Continue reading
Before I turn to the recent comments I wanted to put up a short post about this news items, which fits nicely with yesterday’s post. As you can easily see, yesterday’s post was about how new technologies have brought us the ability to freeze human eggs for later use. This development will almost assuredly lead to egg banks that more clearly resembles sperm banks and, one would think, a market for eggs that more clearly resembles the market for sperm.
But the ability to freeze eggs opens other avenues besides those that lead to commercial markets. As the article I linked to shows, Orthodox rabbis (at least some orthodox rabbis) are encouraging women to freeze their own eggs for later use. And it makes sense to me that they would do so.
For (some or many? I do not know) Orthodox Jews, a child is Jewish only if the egg from which it developed was from a Jewish woman. Continue reading
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