For Donors: Egg Donation vs. Surrogacy

Women who have decided to undergo egg donation procedures may have overlooked the option of being a surrogate. While the two procedures present different obligations and experiences, their fundamental purpose is the same: to provide a childless couple with a baby.

The Specifics of Egg Donation

In an egg donation procedure, the donating woman is given a series of medicines designed to stimulate her ovaries and produce eggs. The series can last anywhere from several weeks to a few months and the drugs are injected into the woman’s body. Subsequently, a physician performs an egg retrieval procedure on the donor, during which the donor is under general anesthesia. The egg is then transferred to a petri dish, where it will be fertilized and inserted into the recipient’s uterus, which could be a surrogate.

The Specifics of Surrogacy

A surrogate carries and delivers the child. Whether or not the egg used to create the child will be the surrogate's, the recipient’s or from another known or unknown individual is a decision made by the recipient and physician. Therefore, it is possible to be a surrogate without also being an egg donor.

Legal Aspects of Egg Donation and Surrogacy

In many states, surrogacy is illegal. This means that the parties, including the surrogate mother, are under no contractual obligation until after the child is born, and the surrogate mother relinquishes her rights on the child. In these states, surrogacy is much like an adoption, except that the implantation is planned jointly by the parties and the egg specifically chosen.

In contrast, egg donation is not illegal, but this is so merely because of its novelty. Many states have not yet created laws or other regulations for egg donors and recipients. This means that the field is currently largely unregulated. Do not take this to mean that it is unsafe, but just that it is currently still legal. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Egg Donation

After undergoing the procedure and relinquishing her rights to the egg, an egg donor is not responsible for any created child’s future. Egg donors are often paid less that surrogates because their participation is of a shorter duration and less painful than for surrogates. Fees for egg donors range from $5-10,000.00.

However, there is nothing to prevent a child from seeking the donor out in the future. There is also no guarantee over what will happen to the eggs in the future. Donated eggs may end up being destroyed or scientifically tested. 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Surrogacy

Surrogate mothers are paid more for their work in producing a child because their job is much more lengthly and intense. Surrogates, however, have the benefit of getting to know the recipients of the child better over the nine month gestational period. Additionally, surrogates can be certain that the recipients will be good parents and that what is actually happening to the egg is that it is being used to create a child.

There is no guarantee, however, that the egg used during the surrogate pregnancy will be the surrogates. The egg may be from the recipient or from an unknown donor, making the surrogate mother essentially an incubator for the child. And, as always, pregnancy is not without it’s physical and emotional difficulties.

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