Egg Donation: Ethical Implications and Controversy

Egg donation is a new and extremely controversial procedure. Each side, as to whether the procedure is ethical or not, has its different arguments and points to rely on, making the overall ethical debate a seemingly endless quagmire. Explained below are a few of the major controversies and ethical implications of egg donation.

Not Always about a Child

Anti-egg donation factions point to the fact that donors aren’t always donating their eggs to create a child. Despite the painful and invasive nature of the procedure, many donors do not care about the destination for their eggs, meaning that many eggs end up being dissected for science. Because of the egg’s inherent ability to produce life, this fact has many individuals and groups in arms over egg donation.

Financially Driven

With the increasing amounts of infertile couples and fertility issues, creating babies has become extremely expensive. All fertility procedures, egg donation included, come with a hefty financial and emotional price tag. Egg donors are often paid anywhere from $5-10,000.00 per donation cycle, making the purchase of a donated egg out of reach for many couples. This means that egg donation is an option only available to the wealthiest of citizens. Critics of egg donation point to the financial incentives for egg donors as a means to show how human life is not being celebrated, but instead sold.

Ownership Rights

Which party owns the egg prior to or even after its donation is yet another unanswered question about egg donation. Intrinsically, the egg is part of a woman’s body until released, but what about when a release is forced, or when creation of the egg was due to medicinal stimulation? Ownership of rights to the egg affect everything from the egg’s extraction to its implantation in another woman to parentage rights after the child is born and ages.

Future Parental Relationships

Similar to the problems of ownership over the egg, debates exist as to what happens to a child born from egg donations whose parents later die or divorce. Several arguments support that no matter what the child remains that of the parents who purchased the egg, but there has been no common ground found on what happens when one or both parents die. While some argue that it is always better to have any parent than none at all, others state that, in giving up the egg, the donor gives up any and all future rights.

The Abandoned Egg Debate

On a related note, in egg donation there is the question of what happens to the eggs if not fertilized or implanted. In this case, whether the owner, physician or recipients of the donated egg own it remains unanswered. Within this debate, furthermore, is the ethical dilemma of what to do with an unfertilized or implanted egg and whether or not destroying such an egg constitutes murder.

While seemingly an answer to many infertility issues, egg donation is neither without controversy or its ethical dilemmas. Prior to donating or purchasing eggs, speak candidly with your physician about these issues and his stance on each.