The New England Journal of Medicine has a free text and audio interview on the subject of women who donate/sell/give their oocytes or eggs for other women to become pregnant through in vitro fertilization (IVF) or for scientific research.
“Perspective: The Egg Trade — Making Sense of the Market for Human Oocytes” by Debora Spar (Free Full Text)
Audio interview with Debora Spar and Emily Galpern
Listening to the debate, the controversy – or the effort to discover and maintain a controversy – seems a bit strained. Elitist white women who are “pro-choice” when it comes to abortion of embryonic and fetal humans, and who say they do not object to embryonic stem cell research, itself – who wouldn’t mind how many embryonic humans die as long as no adult woman is exploited – speaking of poor black women’s right or risk in egg donation reminds me of a bioethics afternoon TV talk show.
If the right not to be created and killed is dependent on “choice,” then so is the right not to be exploited or even enslaved. If compassion for already born children and adults is really important, then why not use fetal stem cells (as has been proposed in nerve regeneration studies, the 8 week “embryos” were actually fetuses that had been aborted), paying women to abort or telling women that their babies died at birth in order to harvest the baby’s embryonic stem cells (as has been done in the Ukraine), or harvesting the organs of prisoners, whether on death row or not (China and, possibly in South Carolina).
What is not mentioned in this article is the other hazard in the “sharing” of oocytes with other women or with researchers in return for a discount on her own in vitro fertilization costs. In the body, the oocyte only lives about a day after ovulation.
The fact is that the best chance for fertilization and in the limited success that has come with making human embryos with SCNT (those few that begin to divide at all) comes when the egg is used only an hour after it’s removed from the body.
Therefore, any woman who “shares” her eggs with researchers will not have a chance to know whether or not any of the oocytes she did not “share” – the ones the technicians kept for fertilization for her – were actually fertilized, much less whether she was able to get pregnant herself.
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