The Ethicist on Past Egg Donation

A quick note about the lead question in The Ethicist today.   (For those who are not avid followers, the ethicist is Ariel Kaminer.  While I’m not sure what her qualifications are, she accepts ethical questions posed by NYT Magazine readers.   In general I find the questions and her answers interesting and she’s a great deal better than the guy who originated the column and was opinionated without being thoughtful (in my opinion, of course.))

The question is posed by a woman who was an egg provider 15 years ago.   She regrets this and has no interest in learning the outcome of the transaction.  But now she’s getting married and thinking of having kids and she asks whether she should tell her fiance. 

I think the answer given is quite thoughtful.   The important thing to Kaminer is that the matter is important to the woman asking the question.  If it’s this important to her, then it is something her fiance should know.   This makes total sense to me–it is and quite likely will be on the asker’s mind as she begins her family.   Not telling would (in my view–and remember I’m a big fan of honesty) complicate things as it seems likely to me that the husband would know there was something going on but wouldn’t know what.

Notice that this answer tangentially addresses another question.   What if the provision of eggs didn’t loom large in the asker’s life?   What if it was something from a long time ago that she rarely thought about.  And let’s face it. we all did things when we were twenty that we have left behind in our past.   If that’s the case, do you need to dig it out to disclose?

I think it’s pretty clear that the answer the ethicist would give is “no” and I concur.   (I’m fairly sure others disagree which is why I bring it up here.)   For me the issue here is about the relationship between the prospective spouses.  That means the question becomes one of telling your partner/spouse about the important things that matter in your life.  Whether being an egg provider is one of them is something only the person involved can decide.

I suppose what this reveals (again–there’s no news here) is that for me the importance of genetic linkage is personal and individual rather than universal.   Where I think others assert that it is always (or at least nearly always) important, because it relates to something essential about who we are, I think the meaning of DNA varies much more widely.   I thought it might be worth exploring this briefly via this post because I think this might be a slightly different way of stating what is a recurrent and fundamental disagreement here about how to understand the importance of the genetic link.

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30 responses to “The Ethicist on Past Egg Donation

  1. The ethicist is out to lunch with her if-its-important-to-you–only-then-is-it-important-enough-to-mention bullshit. If you know full well that someone’s understanding of something is different than reality and you allow that understanding to go uncorrected….your up to no damn good and your lying. What if having extramarital sex meant nothing to this woman and she did not consider herself to be unfaithful so long as she was not in love with the other people she was having sex with and therefore she chose not to disclose these affairs because they were not important to her? If her spouse thinks she has not had sex with anyone but him during the course of their relationship it does not matter what the hell is important to her – she’s lying to him. So if she knows he thinks she has no offspring and he at some point finds out that she does, she will look like a sleazy little weasel standing there telling him “well I told you I don’t have any children and its true because the mother is the one who raises blah blah blah”. If she’s a coke addict and her spouse does not know she thinks its under control and no big deal and then he finds out and she says to him she was not deceiving him – she’ll look like she’s in denial which she would be. You have not communicated with a person if you know their understanding is different than how things actually are.

    Screw DNA and what it means to be a mother father or parent. Lets not play around with the details here. This woman knows ther spouse thinks that she has no progeny because he has seen no evidence of any in her life and she has probably told him she has never been pregnant. He will be under the impression that their future children have no other genetic siblings out there in the world. It makes no difference whether one thinks the siblings are important or irrellevant – he is under a false impression.

    She knows that people do judge people’s characters based upon how they care for their offspring. Maybe you don’t but many people do. Many people would harshly judge a person’s character for not being concerned about the health and safety of their own offspring. If she thinks those judgements are unfair and allows people to think that she is not the type of person that would have offspring but not want to know them then she is managing people’s expectations to her advantage. We all do it but if we are asking the question whether or not its ethical the answer is always going to be “no”.

    The ethicist has it backwards – its not whether information important to her that ethics turns upon Julie, its whether or not it would be important to the person its being withheld from.

    • I think you are being quite unfair here. The question is about when you need to disclose past conduct–long past conduct–as part of the entry into a new relationship. If you meet someone when you are thirty, there’s no way you can tell them everything you have ever done or felt. You pick and choose. And I think you legitimately pick and choose things that are important–things that continue to shape you, to raise issues for you, etc. That’s the rationale on which disclosure is suggested here, and it makes sense to me.

      I’d go further and say that if you know something would be important to your soon-to-be partner, then you probably ought to tell that, too, even if you don’t think it is important yourself. But you don’t always know what other people think is important.

      This is totally different from thinking about what you have to tell your partner about present activities during your shared lives. I think you are far over-generalizing the advice given and taking it to extremes that I don’t think the author (or I) would support. The obligations in a present shared life are different and spring from different sources.

      For what it is worth, I think it is quite possible that you could meet someone and tell them the important things and later realize that something you didn’t tell them (because it wasn’t important to you and you didn’t know it was important to them) was something that might matter to them. In that case, I think you probably ought to tell them then. But that’s not the question here, either.

  2. Agree with the previous commenter. The info is relevant because the partner has a right to know that this woman has biological children out there somewhere. There is no guarantee these kids won’t track down the egg donor and reappear in her life — no matter how closed a donation is, it CAN happen. It’s unfair to leave one’s spouse in ignorance of this possibility, however slight.

    Kaminer writes “I doubt your fiancé would feel he owed you an accounting of every sperm he ever released into the world, whether at a sperm bank or in more convivial settings.” UH. Whether he “feels” that way or not, a guy should tell his life partner if he donated sperm. “I have biological kids” is one of those things one’s spouse deserves to know.

    • Maybe most people would agree with this. Certainly if you are a person who would want to know if your soon to be spouse had biological offspring, then you shoud make that clear. Once the prospective spouse knows that it matters to you, they should disclose. Similarly, if you’re the one who may have biological offspring and you think that’s important, then you should disclose.

      But not everyone feels that the biology part is so important. If you don’t and if you have no reason to think that your soon-to-be does, then maybe it doesn’t matter?

      • If you know for a fact they feel say as you do about it then sure it might be overlooked except for you’d also want to know for a fact that they would be cool with getting that knock on the door if it happened. And you would not know that unless you’d had a fairly specific conversation about it. I think at issue here is that its not something she’s forgotten about and its something that has the potential to come up in their lives at some point. That possibility exists where as if it did not exist at all saying nothing would be fine. The reason she is hesitant to tell him is probably that he will judge her harshly and not want to marry her. At that point if you know that your future spouse has values that might make him think twice about marrying you because of something you did in the past and you don’t tell him so that you can keep him, something is wrong there. Again we all withhold info from time to time because telling might mean we loose something we want, but is it ethical? Nope.

        • There’s a really interesting point raised by all this, I think. First, to clear this away, I think we agree that if you know something is important to a person and you have something in your background that relates to that, then you should disclose. I wouldn’t dispute this point, even though I can well understand that disclosure might be difficult. You don’t (in my view) get to omit in order to save yourself trouble or pain. (See Adrienne Rich–who suggests that the liar generally acts selfishly, to save herself trouble or pain.)

          So that brings me to this: Suppose you haven’t had conversations about how people feel about genetic relationships and do not know. Does that mean that you should assume people care about them or that people do not care about them? In other words–what is the default assumption? For instance, suppose you had actually been pregnant and had a child. Even if you haven’t had conversations about this, perhaps the default assumption in this case should be that the other person will care about that and you should tell them (even if it is not a big deal to you.) But if instead you had chosen to have an abortion, then I’m not sure your default assumption should be that you disclose. Remember–this is if it isn’t a big deal to you, and if that’s the case, then I’m not sure you should be required to assume that the other person will care. (And remember, too, that if you have information from which you know that the other person does or does not care, then this means you don’t go with the default but you go with what you know.)

          Now, to return to our topic–should the default be that you assume people do care about genetic connections or that you assume people don’t care? If I think about it this way, it is unsuprising to me that your initial response is that the default should be that people do care while my initial response is that the default should be people don’t care. But frankly, this is a slightly different way for me to approach the issue and I do plan to think about my response. While I know what I’d prefer, preferences are not what set default rules, in my view.

          • This sounds tongue in cheek but its not- If you’re afraid to tell, then obviously it means you think it may matter to them.
            not the only criteria of course, but an important one.

            • You just identified the only rule of thumb needed – if you have to ask if its ethical, its not. If you are to the point of soliciting opinions you’re concerned with looking ethical rather than actually being ethical.

              • You may think this inconsistent, but I disagree with this statement. There have been moments in my own life when I have wondered about what is the ethical course of conduct and have sought counsel from others. That’s not because I think I know the answer and want to avoid it, but rather because I need help thinking things through. I realize in this context that gets trickier and I do think one should err on the side of disclosure. But there are instances where you could think about something and decide not to disclose. It matters to me why you are hesitant to disclose. If you worry about the reaction of the person to whom you will disclose that’s one thing–and that’s what I was thinking about in responding to the earlier comment. But sometimes the hesitation to disclose might have less to do with the reaction of the person you’d be telling and more to do with respecting someone else’s (a third party’s) right to privacy or confidentiality. That (to me) is different.

                • Do you mean like not being a tattle tail a narc a snitch? Staying out of other people’s business? Yes that gets tougher. Generally in those instances if you anguish over the fact that you know someone is being lied to and believe that its unfair – they are being mad a fool of and it pains you to see it….and you don’t want to tell because it could blow up in your face, you should probably tell. The ethical thing is usually not the easiest thing from the tellers prospective. That is what constitutes ethical quandary

                  • I suppose I was thinking about situations like this: Suppose a friend has told you (in confidence) that she had an abortion. Maybe you’d had some long and serious conversations with her about this and maybe you had some lingering feelings of your own. You might even know that your intended spouse/partner had strong feelings about abortion. Do you tell your partner? It seems to me that in a way, this is not yours to tell. I don’t know the answer–and I probably need more details. But it is something I’d have to think about and yet that, to me, doesn’t mean the answer is obvious and that you should disclose.

                • to your comment below I’m a little confused on the senario – it reads like a person contemplating whether or not to tell their own fiance about her best friend’s abortion because maybe? He would not want them hanging out? I suppose there are spouses that dictate friendships but I think I missed your point by a mile i must have
                  Now the difference between disclosing an abortion and potential offspring from having likely been reproduced as an egg provider…that is one of those executive level decisions. If your a catholic marrying a catholic and know your spouse might dump you now if you told or later if he found out and you think that is a waste of an otherwise fantastic relationship – you go into executive decision making mode and decide for him that he would be happier being with you than without you and then you determine what the chances are that he’d find out….abortion very unlikely unless he saw your actual medical file because the embryo did not develop into a person that can come knocking. Kind of the point of abortion vs adoption right? Someone who knows could tell him but you establish a fall back position of saying that this friend is jelous and wants to break them up or she misunderstood that what you had was a d.n.c. after a miscarriage or whatever. With egg donation you probably have offspring and you can’t be sure that they’ll never find you and they can prove the relationship by a test that demonstrates relatedness to her cousin or something limiting the mother to only you because you have one nephew and its your sister’s kid. So less ethics more calculated risk.

            • I don’t think that is tongue-in-cheek at all. If you think there may be some significant reaction that you’re worried about, then you must think it is important.

          • I think the ethics part of it really has nothing to do with the subject of dna or eggs or children. You say above why should you assume they care about genetics? Erring on the side of caution is an old saying worth revisiting. In my line of work we have contracts that say if a contract requirement is in conflict with a building code the more stringent shall govern. If you don’t know if someone will be a stickler for punctuality should you arrive late or show up on time?

            Below you said seeking counsel on ethical matters is not a sign that you know your considering an unethical course of action, sometimes you just don’t know. If you just don’t know you just do what you want to do and are genuinely surprised if it hurts someone – like you just did not see it coming. You feel like “man I should have though this through better”. A person seeking counsel on ethics is seeking help making an executive level decision. One that involves risk management, what kind of collateral damage are we talking about and what is the likelihood of there being damage. Your establishing fall back positions, escape clauses and exit strategies. At best your seeking ethics on a technicality because you are aware that someone could be hurt or feel betrayed if such and such occurs.

            • I agree that the ethics part is really a sort of broader question that transcends all the ART stuff. There are general principles that you could try to articulate and perhaps if you got them down then you would be able to apply them to this specific case.

              I think you’re re-stating (in useful ways) my point about what the default is. Actually, for many people, if you don’t know whether people care about punctuality, you might give yourself ten/fifteen minutes slack. (This probably varies culturally and also on whether the setting is business/pleasure.) I know this seems trivial, but I am still surprised when I invite people for dinner at seven and lo–as the clock strikes seven they are at my door. In Philadelphia (where I lived and entertained for many years) seven did not mean seven–it meant sometime around seven-fifteen.

              That’s all a digression. I’m not surprised that you think the default ought to be assuming that people care about genetic linkage, I’m just not sure what I think. And I have a niggling suspicion that there’s also something about gender here, though I haven’t put my finger on it by a long-shot. What I mean is that a woman selling her eggs might be different from a man selling sperm.

              And as for the seeking counsel on ethical behavior–I mentioned a situation in a different reponse I just posted. There can, it seems to me, be competing ethical obligations–an obligation to another to keep a secret, say, that might create tension. That’s the sort of circumstance I was thinking of, I think. You are right that if you really cannot see something coming then you don’t even realize what you’re doing and don’t seek advice.

  3. Previous comments seem to be predicated on the idea that a duty to disclose the donation is based on the existence of genetic children. In this instance, the letter writer doesn’t know if offspring resulted from the donation and most likely never will. Unlike sperm donation, egg donation (particularly from 15 years ago) has usually been anonymous, making it . highly unlikely there will be a knock at the door from a genetic child that may have resulted from the egg donation.

    I feel more comfortable offering that people should disclose previous acts that could reasonably impact a current relationship. For example, if she declared bankruptcy five years ago, that should be disclosed because it will impact their credit as a married unit. If she declared bankruptcy fifteen years ago, there’s no need to disclose because it’s unlikely – given the time gap – that event will impact their life as a married unit. Back to the specifics of this letter, if she agreed to have her personal information disclosed to any offspring upon their 18th birthday (as is common with sperm donation), then she has a duty to disclose because it can reasonably be assumed that her egg donation may impact her fiancé/husband. Similarly, because she is so troubled by her donation, it’s reasonable to assume that the donation will impact her current relationship. Thus, it should be disclosed.

    I’d also go a step further and caution her not to start a family with someone with whom she’s not comfortable discussing something that’s clearly bothering her. If you can’t talk openly and honestly with a person, I’m not convinced that you should procreate with that person.

    • Kenny:
      You said “Previous comments seem to be predicated on the idea that a duty to disclose the donation is based on the existence of genetic children. In this instance, the letter writer doesn’t know if offspring resulted from the donation and most likely never will. ”

      There is a possibility that this woman does in fact have offspring. More so than a man who might have been promiscuous in his past; she pointedly provided eggs for the sole purpose of producing her offspring for other people to raise, she was selected because it was likely that she could produce children and unless she received a letter from the clinic advising her that they would not be interested in any more donations from her, its reasonable to assume that each egg produced an embryo which may or may not have been gestated yet. She could have offspring as old as 15 or as young as 2 – many of her offspring may not be born for years if say they are embryos donated thrice she may be producing offspring well into her 60’s. So its more likely than not that they do exist and will exist and she knows it.

      I help children like hers locate and contact their parents who donated as well as their other family members. If we hit a road block with an uncooperative parent we just contact his or her children, siblings and parents aunts and uncles who have in my experience always welcomed the person seeking contact warmly. So if this woman ignores the knock at her door her children will simply walk down the block and knock on her sisters door to meet their cousins. She should tell her spouse that the possibility exists. If no possibility existed then and only then would she be doing the ethical thing by allowing him to believe no offspring exist.

      • There’s certainly a possiblity that there are children who will find her, even with anonymity. And probably that’s something to think about, too. I’m not saying she shouldn’t disclose–and neither was the ethicist.

        Suppose instead a man about to get married had been fairly promiscuous and really had no idea whether there were children conceived as a result of his various adventures. What obligation of disclosure might he have? does he need to say anything unless/until someone does appear? And if so, does a hypothetical woman who was an egg donor but has no present concerns about that have the same freedoms?

        • There is a crucial difference between the accidental conception of a child through unprotected sex and the deliberate production of offspring through the sale of your proven potent highly mobile sperm. The sperm provider knows that his sperm is being taken from him for the purpose of producing his offspring for other people to keep and raise. He knows he was chosen to provide sperm because he is potent and capable of getting a fertile woman pregnant and he knows that women will be inseminated with his sperm at times of the month when they are most likely to conceive a child. Its highly unlikely that his sperm did not produce at least one child if not more children. In fact its more likely than than not that he has many offspring in the area where he provided the sperm and several scattered around the globe.

          Only a merchant marine deliberately trying to spread his seed and ditch out could parallel that situation. Most men that have unprotected sex would probably have caught wind of a pregnancy if they’d gotten someone pregnant especially if they had not moved around a lot. So if they were not trying to get anyone pregnant and were not trying to hide from being named as father had they gotten someone pregnant he would be within a safe zone to tell his fiance that he has no children that he knows of and if he did he could say that he certainly would not shrink from the responsibility of caring for them. Then if one should appear later on down the line I’d say his spouse should be understanding. I have called many men up and told them they had children they knew nothing about. They went off to the vietnam war not knowing girls they were seeing were pregnant and those girls married other men or gave their children up for adoption without saying a thing. Those men did not know to tell their future wives but did nothing wrong. A sperm donor knows there is a good possibility that he has offspring and if that is important to his future spouse he should tell.

          • I think you’re right that there’s a good possibility that the sperm donor has offspring. (I do wonder what the odds actually are? Are their donors who are rarely if ever chosen? I’m sure sperm banks try to avoid this, but I wonder anyway.) With the promiscuous man there’s a possiblity, but perhaps it isn’t as great. And perhaps it is more fair to assume that everyone knows about that possiblity so you don’t have to say anything beyond “I’ve slept around a bit.”

    • On the contrary its highly likely that there will be a knock on the door. Even if the child was never told that their mother was an egg donor they can figure it out – if your 20 and your mother is in her late 50’s or early 60’s its a good chance she’s not your mother. Submit your dna to a site like 23 and me and get back a list of cousins a mile long with surnames and they might even catch a sibling. Then you trace off the surnames. If they have that in combination with a donor profile sheet you simply google all the things about her untl you narrow it down to several that have surnames that match the ones that match your dna family list. Pay for a background check website membership and get the maiden names of others on your short list. Then start writing letters to the women and their family members.

      They can also google their social mother’s name screen name email address with terms like infertility to dredge up posts on old forums as old as 20 years ago. Background check wesites like intelligator will give them a list of all their social mother’s former ip addresses and email accounts screen names and forums where they might have posted in the past 20 years as well. Googling their baby nick name like bean or peanut are super helpful as well. Many women that post about how they are not disclosing egg donation to their children actually list their children’s names as part of their screen identity for the forum – these are ways that a person can confirm that they are not actually the child of the people raising them.

      Here is an example of a woman not telling the child that her mother was an egg donor. She gives so much information to identify her that the child she gives birth to will easily be able to confirm her suspicions that she is not a member of the family of the woman raising her. Look she even gives the due date which should closely match the birth date of the donors child:

      ” #2
      08-01-2011, 04:11 AM

      Dona
      girl-gunfighter

      Join Date: Sep 2006
      Posts: 1,133
      Hi dezzi – My husband and I don’t have any plans to disclose DE to our family. I have an amazing family but to be honest, we can’t find a reason WHY we would need to disclose, the whole process is totally anonymous, so it’s not as if anybody could go looking for the donor for a relationship and we have all the health questions answered in her history from the agency. I just can’t find any reason to disclose. I wasn’t going to disclose to my OB but decided I wanted them to be aware that this baby is the result of a healthy, 23 year old’s eggs and not my bad 41 year old eggs and they said this will eliminate some of the testing they require for somebody who is 41 and told me I don’t have to worry about a lot of things I’d normally have to worry about, if the baby were from my old eggs. So, we did tell the OB and I’m happy with that. I live 3.5 hours from the nearest relative, I’m not worried about them finding out from my OB, that’s near impossible and my OB knows we are not disclosing this to family.

      I hope this gets easier for your hubby and you are able to feel 100 percent with your decision…it’s an amazing gift we are given, donors willing and able to do this for us!!

      HUGS!
      __________________
      Dona – 41 POF
      Joey – 44 PERFECT
      TTC #1 13 years!
      1st IUI December ’06
      1st beta 187
      4th beta 135,000
      1/23/07 – 1st U/S NICE HB!
      2/12/07 – 2nd U/S no HB, D & C Jonah
      IVF #1 8/01/07 & IVF #2 2/20/08 –

      2/18/11 – Donor chosen!
      ET – 4/30 29 eggs, 21 mature, 19 fert
      ET 5/5 3 blasts!
      5/11 – 8:30am hpt 6dp5dt
      5/11 – Beta #1 @6dp5dt – 49
      5/13 – Beta #2 @8dp5dt – 183
      5/17 – Beta #3 @12dp5dt – 1123
      5/24 – 1st u/s – TWINS!!!
      6/3 – 2nd u/s – Saw hbs, Baby 2 @127bpm
      6/10 – 3rd u/s – Saw hbs, Baby 2 @155bpm
      6/22 – 1st OB & 4th u/s – Baby 2 hb of 179. Lost Baby 1
      7/2 – Heard Pea’s hb on home doppler 1st time!
      7/20 – 2nd OB visit
      7/23 – 2D ultrasound
      7/27 – NEW OB
      8/22 – OB w/full anatomy scan
      8/26 – First 3D/4D u/s – BOY!!
      10/4 – 1 hr. glucose & OB
      11/10 – OB

      DUE 1.21.12″

      • Even if she were a genetic masterpiece it doesn’t mean the sperm donor was – nor does it mean the woman carrying the pregnancy was good at maintaining a pregnancy. Absent any knowledge to the contrary, an industry wide stat is fair to use. So, at around 50-50, it’s a draw.

        This is one reason why I think anonymity should not be allowed. She should have the right to at least know whether or not a live birth resulted.

      • Actually most women in their late 30s are still capable of conceiving with their own eggs

        Regarding the 50 percent statistic, THATs a huge percentage! Way way higher than any random act of intercourse!

    • I think your reasoning is quite sensible. We can spin all the hypotheticals we want, of course, and there is much to learn from doing so. But the fact here is that there was something that was bothering her and this being the case, she should tell the person she expects to be spending her life with.

  4. If she defines the word parent differently than her spouse she should let him in on that maybe choose phrasing that would actually mean what she’s thinking to someone other than herself and those who think like her. She could say for instance, that she knows that she’s fertile even though she has never been pregnant because she donated her eggs in college and probably has several offspring that are in their teens. See how words can describe her situation to others in a way that someone other than her will know what’s going on.

    Redefining words makes it so that she can tell a lie with an exit strategy; if she is ever challenged she can pretend it was just a miscommunication because words mean different things to different people.

    • I’m curious why you think she “probably” has genetic offspring. About the highest success rate that I’ve seen for egg donation leading to a live birth is 55%. It appears that overall (i.e., not clinic-specific) statistic is relatively constant from the few previous years. However, from what I could dig up, it seems that 15 years ago, the success rate was lower than 50%. Thus, it’s more likely that she doesn’t have genetic offspring. Hence, my reason for ignoring the possibility of their existence & focusing on other factors to determine an obligation to disclose. (As I stated earlier given her feelings about the donation I think she should disclose even if she knew there were not any live births that resulted from her eggs.)

      Please understand that I’m not disagreeing with your argument necessarily. In fact, I think we probably agree in the outcome – she should disclose – but arrive there by different methods. The existence of genetic offspring argument seems to give her more wiggle room, not less, since the overall odds are greater that she doesn’t have a kid.

      Additionally since she doesn’t provide the info, I’ll assume she hasn’t naturally conceived a child. Given her advanced reproductive age & no prior natural conception, her donation from 15 years ago doesn’t predict her current fertility. Suggesting to him that she’s fertile (i.e., suggesting she can give him children) because of an egg donation from 15 years ago would, at best, be misleading and, at worst, an outright lie. In fact, given her age, I’d offer that her fiancé/husband best do some soul searching as to whether a traditional pregnancy is important to him. If it is, she may not be the right spouse for him. I’m saddened to see women who are put through some futile quest to have a natural pregnancy simply because a husband didn’t understand that ‘no-baby’ by 35 can prove quite problematic, if your desire is a traditional pregnancy.

      • Well I apply those statistics about success rates to reality differently than you do – she was tested prior to providing her eggs to ensure that she was healthy and fertile and likely to produce offspring if her eggs were fertilized with potent sperm. People don’t want to pay 7K for eggs that are duds they turn away infertile donors. So out the gate there is a good chance that one of her eggs will produce offspring or they would not be selling them. There is a good chance that once harvested they were immediately injected with sperm as egg freezing is relatively new and not yet real popular. Statistically some of her eggs would have gotten fertilized and then been implanted into the wombs of women deemed capable of carrying a pregnancy to term.

        If 12 eggs were harvested from her body and she follows suit with the standard 50% success rate then she might have 6 offspring walking around if her eggs were shared amongst more than one couple especially. More likely than not she’d have two or three walking around and a few on ice for a while that might be gestated many years after the donation through embryo adoption or something.

        So the egg provider is more likely to have offspring running around than a woman who did not provide her eggs for the purpose of producing offspring.

        Your trying to make it like she donated her eggs for research purposes not intending to produce offspring. The outside possibility would exist that they could use her eggs to produce embryos against her wishes and without her express consent. The egg provider in question specifically gave her consent to produce offspring for other people to keep and raise. She specifically provided the eggs intending that her offspring should be created and given to whomever was paying to become her offspring’s legal parents. Its different than the remote chance of offspring being created with eggs provided for research purposes or say for her own ivf purposes that failed and the clinic stole her extra eggs and sold them (like what happend to female patients at UC Irvine). Those women could not disclose the possibility of offspring and be truly innocent if one came knocking because their eggs were fertilized with strangers sperm without their knowledge and their offspring were raised by others without their agreement to relinquish their children at birth. They would be similar to the man having unprotected sex.

        It is more likely that this woman has offspring than not. I mean is’nt she more likely to have offspring since she was a gamete provider than if she did not provide gametes at all. I think what she should be doing is assume that she does have offspring and conduct her business accordingly in the event that they show up she cannot be accused of being less than forthright.

  5. The ethicist has fallen under the ART twilight zone spell in which “releasing a sperm” has nothing to do with the person that results.

  6. I do see we agree on the outcome of disclosure, but I think your succumbing to the legal world rather than the ethical one. Not that they are always different but winning an argument about telling the truth on a technicality like “well I did not know for sure that any children were produced with my donation” is a sorry excuse for actually having said “look I sold some eggs in college and I could very well have a kid knocking at our door some day – are you cool with that?

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