OMG I CAN SELL MY EGGS NOW!! EEEEEEEEEE!

This is so awesome! Women in New York can now be fairly compensated for donating their eggs for stem-cell research! WHOOOO!

With the exception for near-sightedness, a sweet tooth, and a ‘bad attitude’, my family doesnt have a history of genetic diseases. It would be SO AWESOME if I could donate my eggs to a research laboratory and be fairly compensated for the time/pain/risks involved!

But lots of assholes dont want me to do that.

Remember Lisa Billy? Convinced scientists will prowl alleyways, hunting for poor black women to harvest their eggs for $20? See, if I just want to donate my eggs for free, thats one thing, but the second scientists start paying $$, why, poor people will be forced to donate so they can pay the gas bill! *cue picture of screaming and crying black woman laid out, spread-eagle, while ravenous evil white male scientists harvest her eggs*

Shes not alone–Heres a Catholic priest all worried about women!

“Moreover, critics worry that the move could lead to the exploitation of women, especially poor women, who tend not to be in demand for infertility donation.

“With the economy the way it is, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist to know that when a woman is looking at receiving up to $10,000 to sign up for research project, that’s an undue inducement,” said Thomas Berg, a Catholic priest who directs the Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person and serves on the Empire State Stem Cell Board’s ethics committee. He opposed the decision. “I think it manipulates women. I think it creates a trafficking in human body parts.”

Trafficking human body parts! Oh my! Thats so worse than trafficking priests! Your concern is noted, ‘priest’.

But religious nutbars arent the only ones against basic stem-cell research. Some ‘ethicists’ are angry too.

According to some ‘ethicists’, if you dont offer women an appropriate sum, then they are donating because they want to. If you actually pay women a sum scientists, IRB panels, and donors think is fair, which is equivalent to how much woman make for donating eggs to an infertile couple ($2500-5000), youre ‘exploiting women’:

“In a field that’s already the object of a great deal of controversy, the question is, are we at the point where we really need to go that route in order to do the science?” said Jonathan D. Moreno, a professor of bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania. “I’m not convinced.”

But Moreno, at the University of Pennsylvania, questioned whether enough effort had been made to persuade women to donate eggs without compensation. “I wonder if all the expertise that could be brought to be bear on this problem of getting unreimbursed donation have been explored,” he said.

“People recognize that eggs can make a baby. That’s a very concrete good for society. But you can’t be sure any biological material you collect for research will be part of a medical breakthrough. That’s the goal, but you can’t be sure,” Moreno said.

*GAAAAAAAAAAAAAG*

*spit*

*frown*

Actually, you can be sure ‘any biological material you collect for research will be part of a medical breakthrough’, Mr. Im-not-a-scientist-but-I-like-telling-scientists-what-they-should/shouldnt-do. If I donated eggs tomorrow, I have zero expectations that *my* eggs will be the ones used to cure _____. The experiments conducted on my eggs will inch scientists towards a cure for _____, either through ‘Hey! This works! But we still need to do A, B, C…. WWW, XXX, YYY, ZZZ’ or ‘Shit! This approach will not work to cure _____’.

Both positive and negative data contribute towards ‘medical breakthroughs’.

A scientist would know that.

Additionally, I can also be 100% sure how much ‘good’ my eggs will go towards if I dont donate. None. Oh, if I really cared I would do it for free, Mr. Ethicist? Even though every other study gets to fairly compensate their volunteer participants? What is the ‘ethical’ reason for why I cant be fairly compensated for donating my eggs to a cause that will move the medical community in a positive direction?

Piss off, ‘ethicist’.

*high-five* to NY State for siding with scientists on this one!

“This is a really great, appropriate policy,” said Susan Solomon, co-founder of the New York Stem Cell Foundation, a private, nonprofit research organization. “This could help us to pursue some critical experiments that we hope will lead to treatments for devastating diseases.”

“Women are perfectly capable in our society in deciding to get plastic surgery, Botox, donate a kidney. I find it patronizing beyond belief. We compensate people in clinical trails for time and burden all the time,” Solomon said.

Elsewhere:

“If you’re donating oocytes, there is time and burden,” Ms. Solomon said. “And in our society, we compensate for time and burden.”

Thank you. I like Susan.

Comments

  1. #1 Sili
    June 29, 2009

    “People recognize that eggs can make a baby. That’s a very concrete good for society.

    I fail to see how wasting time, money and ressources on producing more people is “good” in any ways.

    People fucking breed all over the place. Buy some kids from somewhere if you want to feel parental.

    *rant*rant*rant*rant*rant*

  2. #2 Techskeptic
    June 29, 2009

    Donating an egg isn’t like donating sperm (which if done with the appropriate help may be fun!), or donating blood, which isn’t really a big deal (unless you have an irrational fear of needles or blood). But people get paid for both.

    Here is what you have to do for your few grand. seems like its a fair compensation to me.

    * Stop your cycle. requires 1 or more weeks of medicatio.The medications can cause hot flashes, vaginal dryness, fatigue, sleep problems, body aches, mood swings, breast tenderness, headache, and/ or vision problems

    *Stimulate egg production with high doses of hormones that are injected each day for 10 days. Significant risks, that you may develop soreness, redness or mild bruising around the injection site. You may experience mood swings, tender breasts, enlarged ovaries and mild fluid retention. Occasionally, the medications cause more hyperstimulation than intended (known as “ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome,” or OHSS). This will cause fluid retention and swelling of the ovaries. Small risk of death

    * Progress monitoring through blood tests.
    *Remove eggs: The eggs will be removed from your ovaries in a minor surgical procedure called transvaginal ovarian aspiration. An ultrasound probe will be inserted into your vagina. A thin needle attached to the probe will be inserted into each follicle. Using suction, the egg and liquid inside each follicle are removed. Several days to recover

    *Prevent infection with antibiotics

    And you wonder why people didn’t just donate their eggs? These people are idiots. Of course women should be compensated for this.

  3. #3 Orac
    June 29, 2009

    Actually, ERV, you don’t have to be a religious nutjob to have ethical reservations about this sort of thing. As Techskeptic said, for a woman it’s not a simple as whacking off in a cup. It involves pumping yourself up with hormones, frequent blood draws, and invasive medical procedures with the possibility of significant complications.That’s on top of the fact that first shutting off your ovaries with Lupron and then injecting yourself with hormones in ever-increasing amounts in order to stimulate multiple follicles at once.

    I’ve seen ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, and it can be pretty bad.

    In any case, it’s not nutty to worry that such a policy might result in exploitation. I’m not sure I buy the argument that it will and can see how, with proper safeguards, there’s no reason why there shouldn’t be compensation, but I don’t consider the ethical reservations a lot of people have about this to be silly, nor do I treat such reservations with contempt and mockery as you do.

  4. #4 Mike Caton
    June 29, 2009

    I have to back up Orac on this and for once disagree with ERV. Certainly there are lots of people arguing against any extension of research using gametes for silly reasons, and with deceptive arguments to cover those silly reasons (for example, a sudden concern for women in an organization that’s pretty much ignored their concerns for 20 centuries) – but those aren’t the only arguments. (Orac: “it’s not nutty to worry that such a policy might result in exploitation”).

    I do clinical research for a living and I have to be on guard against offering too much money to patients for participation. When a patient decides to participate, the only consideration should be the risk to the patient, period, and at a certain point the compensation can cloud the patient’s ability to give informed consent. It then effectively becomes coercive.

    I’m a card-carrying Libetarian so I normally support systems that put the responsibility for choosing on the individual, and I support New York’s law, but not everywhere is as well-educated or well-off as the West. How about if I set up a lab in Phnom Penh offering $10,000 for an ovary’s-worth of eggs? That’s only five times what the mean Cambodian makes in a year; might be hard to say no.

  5. #5 ERV
    June 29, 2009

    Of course there are real safety concerns. What scientist wouldnt take that into consideration? The NAS has put a lot of time and effort into addressing the safety of putative donors.

    The ethics perfessers arguments arent ‘safety’. He is worried because 1) stem cells are controversial, so we shouldnt do research (he also doesnt ‘buy’ the science egg harvesters are pushin), 2) women shouldnt be paid, 3) eggs are for babbys.

    Hes an idiot and I shall happily mock his PhD in ‘ethics’.

  6. #6 techskeptic
    June 29, 2009

    Hmm.

    No, I still stand by the idea that women should be compensated for this invasive, long procedure.

    Now the slippery slope argument that exploitation will happen is a different issue. Can we define egg donor exploitation? if so, then lets use that and fight eggsploitation. If not, and women want to be paid for this, even cambodian ones and risks are fully explained, and acceptance criteria remain in place. I dont really see the problem.

    But Orac has caught me in ignorant ethics issues once before.

  7. #7 Katherine
    June 29, 2009

    In New Zealand (and other countries, I’m sure), it is illegal for people to be paid for any body part or product. We get no monetary compensation for donating blood, sperm, or eggs. I still regularly give blood because I want too, and it looks like at 10 donations I will get a free t-shirt :D But no way would I give eggs unless a close female relative of mine was infertile and wanted to use my eggs, especially after reading about the procedure and the emotional effects of all those hormones. If a large sum was offered however, I would certainly reconsider. As long as the people wanting to do this purely for the money have the procedure and risks explained to them well enough, I see no reason for people not to be properly compensated for their time.

  8. #8 becca
    June 29, 2009

    Yeah, if you’re going to pay for eggs in other contexts (fertility and clinical trials), there’s no good reason I can see to not allow it here. Although I suppose it could have interesting effects on the market- “ZOMG nobody can get eggs for reproduction, scientists are hording them all!” (not sure that would be bad, just noting a possible consequence).
    *That said*, paying for eggs is generally ethically iffy and there is pretty much no way I would do it for only 10 grand- just because we believe woman should have the right to make their own decisions doesn’t mean we can’t also be outraged over them being exploited- and that is a possible consequence here.

  9. #9 ERV
    June 29, 2009

    I do clinical research for a living and I have to be on guard against offering too much money to patients for participation.
    How is paying someone ‘market value’ for their eggs, an amount agreed upon by scientist, IRB, and donor, ‘coercion’, Libertarian?

    Your problem is the amount of money women would get for doing this. That $10,000 would be the lifetime limit– market value is ~2500 per cycle, maximum of 4 cycles in a lifetime. Sometimes a scientist might want the same donor for a series of experiments– they can only get 4 cycles out of this. We do this with PBMC donors too, but we dont have lifetime donor limits. But *you* think $10,000 max is too much. Fine! Get women to agree to less!

    How about if I set up a lab in Phnom Penh offering $10,000 for an ovary’s-worth of eggs? That’s only five times what the mean Cambodian makes in a year; might be hard to say no.
    Your IRB would approve this?

  10. #10 Rystefn
    June 29, 2009

    I can see and understand the worries about exploitation, but really, that’s a side issue to me. Anyone can be exploited by the market for anything, more or less. That’s just something you have to deal with is you have any kind of market-based system for anything. As far as ethics goes – everyone else in the process is getting paid, so it seem pretty unethical to me that the donor not be. The doctors, the researchers, the people who produce the medicines needed before and after… everyone is getting paid for their part. Makes exactly no sense to me if the donor isn’t.

  11. #11 jim
    June 30, 2009

    I always get nervous when people apply ethical reasoning to female reproduction issues. Especially when churches get involved in the debate. Western culture (the only one I’m qualified to speak about) has a long history of telling women what to do with their bodies and their reproduction. Women were not legally “people”, but property of families and husbands until far too recently for me to accept that all arguments are strictly to protect the poor woman (especially when the Catholic church wades into the debate).

    The “how much” question, to balance compensation versus exploitation is a valid concern. But should it stop the whole process?

  12. #12 Ian
    June 30, 2009

    Don’t put all your eggs in one basket….

  13. #13 Ren fruoken
    June 30, 2009

    This sort of issue has come up a number of times in my life in the last couple months when it comes to organ donation. After talking about it with other people, the main concern is always this “exploitation,” and I think I can see know more where this concern really comes from now.

    For me and others I have talked to (including on omegle, which is handy when thinking about this sort of thing) is *sufficient* compensation.

    There must be a net profit in a transaction, and the profit must be split fairly between both parties, or there is exploitation going on. That’s my definition of exploitation in this context.

    If kidney acceptors or whoever can practically PROVE that there is both a net profit, and that it is being split fairly, then okay.

    Otherwise, assume exploitation is happening, because the minute health damage gets involved, the probable cost to the donor goes up astronomically, and it is apparent that the “compensation” figures are NOT including this cost.

    That means the DONOR is paying for it. That’s not okay. The real cost is whatever it takes to FULLY correct the complications and compensate for any time lost. That’s super expensive. In a non-exploitative transaction it would never be impossible because there is a net profit, remember.

    I’ll be voting accordingly until I see some honesty from buyers on the subject of compensation.

  14. #14 techskeptic
    June 30, 2009

    I think rystefn is has got it closest. to me the exploitation was already happening. The good will of women who were going through that nightmare of a process to donate eggs was (in many places, NY is not the first place to allow payment for eggs) is being exploited. Everyone was making money on that donation except the donor.

    I don’t think ren or jim has it right. Who decides what is fair? Who decides what is sufficient? That is a market force. Cambodian women will end up selling cheaper eggs because they will value their eggs and efforts differently than an american. But I can’t think of a reason why they should not be compensated for their efforts also.

    further who is talking about forcing a woman to do anything at all? No one is talking about being forced to donate an egg. No one is talking about a program where women must donate one egg before they hit menopause or some program like that. We are talkng about allowing women to be compensated for a voluntary process. Just like men get compensated a few bucks for jerking off into a cup, or when someone makes a statue and sells it. More effort and sacrifice more comnpensation.

    To me, the ethics comes in the details of the market forces. For example, is an egg from a woman who has hemophilia in her geneology worth less than an egg from a woman who does not? How about homosexuality appearing in the geneology? Spina bifida? Blond hair?

    Allowing a woman to be compensated for her efforts of donating an egg is not exploitation. However I strongly believe the debate should be about how to regulate the egg market.

  15. #15 Ren fruoken
    June 30, 2009

    Techskeptic:

    I also mean that the market needs to be regulated, is what I’m saying (with regards to information and prices). In order to prevent people from getting scammed, essentially. Free markets only work in a fair fashion when the individuals involved have the information they need to make informed decisions.

    Your assertion that the fair price is determined by the market is dead wrong. The minimum that needs to be paid in order to prevent unfair exploitation (scamming, swindling, leaving someone else to food the real bill, getting someone to do something they wouldn’t do if they knew what the real cost to them was, basically) is something along the lines of what is expected to provide the same quality of life the individual could have otherwise expected.

    Otherwise you just tricked them into taking it in the pants for you, is all. It’s like paying joe shmoe to throw a rock at the nitroglycerin, they come out worse than they went in.

    Just because somebody agrees to something doesn’t mean it’s fair. Some types of free markets are good at assimilating information and finding what a fair price is, but do not confuse that with defining what a fair price is. If the appropriate info isn’t available to the participants, the market will not likely set a fair price.

  16. #16 backpacker
    June 30, 2009

    I am a guy so just saying this. I think you guys are drastically underestimating the woman who would be involved in this process. It seems to me that a person is not going to subject them selves to this sort of procedure for anything less then an exorbitant amount of money. We are talking about $2,500.00 you can’t even buy a good mountain bike for that. A woman who is donating eggs for that amount is donating because she wants to, the money is for the cab fair. If a woman is pushed into donating without being told the possible side effects we already have laws that deal with informed consent prior to medical procedures.

    Mike Caton-
    If you want to go to the third world and open a genetics lab so you can get all the eggs you need for $10,000 nothing is stopping you from doing that. This law (and no law in the U.S.) defiantly will not affect that dream either way.

  17. #17 Ren fruoken
    June 30, 2009

    And remember if there is a net profit a fair price can always be paid to the donor.

    I just realized I made a mistake in my first comment when I said what I thought the only fair compensations was, obviously fixing the complications isn’t the only satisfactory way to compensate, the donor might be better off with the money, in which case the money is more than needed to break even so it would be the lesser of the two….

  18. #18 Azkyroth
    June 30, 2009

    …and you know what that means…

    …mmmm, omelettes :D

  19. #19 revatheist
    July 1, 2009

    I may get flamed for this but here goes:
    I don’t see any exploitation of women of any kind. I personally feel that it is severely patronizing to talk about saving the poor little women against exploitation like they can’t do it themselves. You have control over your body and can choose to do with it as you please: as long as possible health benefitsare discussed with the individual, then no exploitation occurs. What’s the f*cking issue, that only poor or minority women will go through the procedure?– well yeah probably, big deal! If you don’t need the money, you probably won’t do the procedure, just like if you don’t need the money, you probably won’t work the street, or collect garbage, or dig ditches, or even work in a mother f*cking mcdonalds! o my gawd, poor women might actully have a way of getting enough money to leave poverty while helping medical research, wouldn’t that be awful!? Also, its an opportunity that men can’t take advantage of—isn’t that horrible!?! Imagine the evil if poor women could voluntarily have a way to make enough money to live and/or educate themselves without depending on a man, it’s unthinkable! How would the middle and upper classes feel superior if any fool with ovaries could make money? I have news for most of you bastards, I’ve starved before, worked dirty shitty jobs before, and if someone had offered me this kind of opportunity I would have snatched it up! Would that be exploiting me?—of course, after all, letting me starve while walking 2 miles to work in all weather while trying to educate myself is much better for me than that EVIL exploitation! How nice of all you people who don’t have to worry about where their food, water, and electricity are coming from to decide what the proper uses of me and my body are. After all it’s far less exploitative to make me work for a year at walmart or tacobell to make the same money.

  20. #20 revatheist
    July 1, 2009

    I’m sorry if my last post was a little over the top or in your face, but I find it extremely degrading for people who have never experienced poverty to talk about what’s best for the poor people. Poor people are not infants and should not be infantilized.

  21. #21 Brian
    July 1, 2009

    Oh, abbie, what have you spawned here?

    “If you want to go to the third world and open a genetics lab so you can get all the eggs you need for $10,000 nothing is stopping you from doing that. This law (and no law in the U.S.) defiantly will not affect that dream either way.”

    Nonononononono!!!! Listen, I don’t give a shit about the eggs. They’re just big cells. But it is *not ok* to go to Phnom Penh (or Lagos or Douala) and give anybody $10000 for *anything*. There are people there that will happily kill themselves for that amount of money there to see that their family is OK. Do we want that? We could be Mengele for a bargain price if we did that.

    Abbie, I have to say I disagree with you here in completely dismissing people’s concerns. For a lot of people even in America, $2500-5000 is a *lot* of money (by the way, the majority of women who do this are not buying a fucking mountain bike with the money). I’m not sure I’m OK with that amount going for donation to infertile couples. I know -believe me, I know- that Catholics are the last people in the world to listen to on the subject of eggs/spermies/babies. But the process of donating eggs is not without risk and has next to no personal benefit for the woman donating them (aside from the money). Beyond that, government money and scientific studies have an imprimatur behind them that we can’t dismiss lightly.

    As positive as I think the shut-down PReP trials in Cambodia and Cameroon could have been, they made me realize what exploitation in clinical trials was. This wasn’t a trial trying to help people with a terminal illness, just trying to prevent them from getting one, and basic health care was an undue incitement for these people. Basic health care! I don’t know what the right answer is in the egg situation. I’ve personally done ESC work – I know that SCNT work *needs* to be done. But it’s a very fine line that we’re treading here. And people on these ethical boundaries that are not very carefully watched tend to fuck up.

  22. #22 Ren fruoken
    July 1, 2009

    Revatheist,

    The point is that when you snapped up thin opportunity you might be like the person paid to throw a rock at the nitroglycerin. The truth is it might, on average, cause you a world of pain even after the “compensation” is included. That’s not okay. You don’t know what you’re getting into without some serious analysis by some experts.

    If there is an open analysis of the risks you can leave the benefits up to the donors to weigh, but as it stands a donor isn’t going to know what’s what (As if “the man” would ever willingly give them the information they need before donating.)

  23. #23 revatheist
    July 1, 2009

    Ren,
    I looked back at my post and noticed an error. I said “as long as possible health benefitsare discussed with the individual, then no exploitation occurs.” What I meant to say was that as long as the possible health RISKS are discussed, etc,etc. I know its a big error but i was would up if you couldn’t tell. I agree that performing the procedure on anyone who is not sufficiently informed would be exploitation, but that is the only case in which i see it. So i’m totally with you on that point.

  24. #24 Mike Caton
    July 1, 2009

    @ERV

    Thanks for writing back – your second question first.

    Me: “How about if I set up a lab in Phnom Penh…”
    You: “Your IRB would approve this?”
    I assume it would be tricky if you were at a US university and wanted to do this – though I’ve seen US universities approving research on ex-US hunter-gatherers (yes, really, and I had the same questions anyone would). However I do research in industry so I wouldn’t have to worry about IRBs, even assuming that Cambodia has roughly the same laws around patient protection that we do. As an aside, I’ve seen U.S. university IRBs approve research on hunter-gatherers outside the US, and yes I also wondered how they could possibly protect them effectively.

    You: “Your problem is the amount of money women would get for doing this.”

    Listen: I support New York’s law and I do think that for non-desperate people making an informed decision, there’s not a problem. That these conditions always obtain is clearly not true. My point is just that there are some places and some cases where a non-religious-nutjob argument about possible ethical problems is worth listening to.

    Simultaneous entry in the “relevant” and “too much information” categories: I donated sperm in college, and got paid for it. I don’t think there’s an ethical problem there either – while not nearly as invasive as egg donation, I wasn’t desperate and I knew what I was getting into (i.e. that there could be little Lucky Atheists running around today). Plus I had just read the Selfish Gene and I’m a man of principle.

  25. #25 Zar
    July 1, 2009

    Letting poor, desperate women exchange their eggs for money is exploitive and wrong. We should stick to the current system, in which poor, desperate women exchange sex for money. No risks there.

  26. #26 Ren fruoken
    July 1, 2009

    Revatheist,

    I’m going a bit further with the need to inform part than you seem to be. I would want to see a completely open to the public analysis, open in every detail, with any and all criticisms of it right next to it.

    Also, there must be provisions for compensation if risks presently unknown become evident later on. And there needs to be follow up to make sure it’s all working and the donors are not, in fact, at the end of the day, footing the real bill.

  27. #27 Ren fruoken
    July 1, 2009

    Also, what is all this bunk about being concerned that desperate people will take the opportunity to donate?

    I think if you really think about why you are concerned about that, and object to desperate individuals engaging in a body-part sale transaction maybe it is because you think they might be tempted by quick money in exchange for damaging their health.

    That the donor is getting scammed, basically. Coming out the worse for the deal, after damage to health is concerned, in other words.

    But obviously if it is, overall, a profitable transaction for a wealthy donor it is for a poor one too….

    The real problem is ensuring that it is genuinely a profitable transaction for the donor, after any health detriment. The wealth of the donor to begin with is unimportant.

  28. #28 jim
    July 1, 2009

    @Zar

    Don’t forget selling kidneys! Your germ cells or their housing are not the only valuable items.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-450553/The-dark-world-kidney-trade.html

    I’m sort of a harm-reduction thinker. Which is worse, selling a kidney (being done) or selling oocytes?

  29. #29 Sascha
    July 1, 2009

    Prometheus,

    Switzerland’s constitution forbids the commerce or traffic of organs and stipulates all donations must be free. The federal law on assisted procreation forbids outright the donation of ovula. It’s clearly meant to proscribe the donation of ovula for the purpose of assisted procreation; whether it applies to donations for the purpose of medical research is not clear although most eggheads appear to agree it does.

    The trade in human organs just rubs those ethical bankers the wrong way. Bad humor aside, the rational seems to run along some of the lines of the poor ethicist ERV took to the cleaners. Monetary gain from the sale of one’s organs could entail people putting their lives at risk.

    Which brings me to the the New York case where people are compensated for their donation, not paid to sell their organs. Ditto here, loss of income, time and other expenses are compensated in accordance with the Federal law on transplants. Seems reasonable to me, could it be that those unscientific orcs misunderstood the scope of the NY policy?

    AFAIK I have not made any myself either; but then, thanks be to Lord Barroso and the knights of the round commission, I have not been poisoned by irradiated-antibiotic-mad-gmo food. By body is wracked by all natural and organic infirmities, pure god given afflictions.

    Btw: Sascha is a german name (note the teutonic second s) generally applied to the chromosomal deficient half of Goethe’s descendants as well as most cats and dogs in this alpine paradise. Sorry, not my fault that I’m one arm short of being born perfect.

  30. #30 William Wallace
    July 1, 2009

    What’s your view on the government paying welfare receipients to get a tubal ligation or a vasectomy?

  31. #31 revatheist
    July 2, 2009

    ren,
    If I’m understanding you correctly, you’re saying that the informing process and the safety oversights should have public strutiny and that if any further risks are found in the future, then previous donors should be additionally compensated for those risks: if that’s the case, then I couldn’t agree more! My issue is simply that once risks are properly understood and fair compensation is paid, the economic status of the donors should be irrelevant; also, if donors are properly informed and their safety is accounted for, I think that egg donation could be a boon for a poor. My primary point was that when people say that this is an example of taking advantage of the poor, they typically lose sight of the fact that making poor people dig your ditches or flip your burgers is just as exploitative and doesn’t even pay as well. I have issues with hypocrites that don’t mind exploiting the poor as long as it will keep them poor. As you can see, I’ve calmed down since my first post. Did I understand your points properly? Feel free to correct me, it’s how I learn. :)

  32. #32 Bryan Elliott
    July 2, 2009

    @Orac:
    So, what you’re saying is that no one should donate eggs, because it’s a pain in the ass?

    Or is it that scientists shouldn’t compensate women that take that pain in the ass for the good of humanity, because the draw of the money may be stronger than the women’s good sense?

    Because those are your options for, areligiously speaking, any potential ethical concerns.

  33. #33 Bryan Elliott
    July 2, 2009

    “I always get nervous when people apply ethical reasoning to female reproduction issues.”

    When applied correctly – that is, not assuming that women are frail, retarded invalids incapable of making their own decisions without giving into a minefield of invented temptations – ethical reasoning works pretty well concerning female reproductive issues.

    “Especially when churches get involved in the debate.”

    At which point, we’re not applying ethics to anything; we’re applying some bat-shit mutation of morality to a similarly bat-shit caricature of an entire gender.

    Religion tends to get some things wrong – but religious views on women … “insane” is a quaint, nice way of putting it.

  34. #34 jim
    July 2, 2009

    @Bryan Elliot,
    When applied correctly – that is, not assuming that women are frail, retarded invalids incapable of making their own decisions without giving into a minefield of invented temptations – ethical reasoning works pretty well concerning female reproductive issues.

    True… my problem is general lack of evidence of “applying it correctly” (this NY example aside… I think they did the right thing). Detached thinkers can sit in their desks and puzzle out these issues quite well. But the decisions are made and applied, in the end, by politicians. These politicians are easily and willingly swayed be what the “people say”… and in comes interest groups and religious thinking…

  35. #35 jim
    July 2, 2009

    p.s. I was commenting on the protests against the NY decision… not the decision. This example seems to have the church “officials” conveniently using ethics arguments when it suits their purpose.

  36. #36 Bryan Elliott
    July 2, 2009

    @jim: Hey, no big. I wasn’t really assuming who you were commenting at. I was just annoyed at how often and how tragically ethical evaluations are done shoddily where women are concerned.

    NY did a damned good job in permitting compensation for research, and I do commend them for it.

  37. #37 W. Kevin Vicklund
    July 2, 2009

    What’s your view on the government paying welfare receipients to get a tubal ligation or a vasectomy?

    Oh, let’s play with the troll. I would have no problem with the government subsidizing the procedure in full or in part (funding being available). It would be unethical to pay more than the costs.

  38. #38 James Hanley
    July 3, 2009

    How is paying someone ‘market value’ for their eggs, an amount agreed upon by scientist, IRB, and donor, ‘coercion’, Libertarian?

    Hmm, if I understand ERV from past posts, she’s definitely not a libertarian, but she’s got the better of the libertarian here. As a libertarian myself, I fully agree with ERV on this (and desperately want to make a snarky comment like, “welcome to dark side, but I’ll try to resist temptation ;) ).

    Letting poor, desperate women exchange their eggs for money is exploitive and wrong. We should stick to the current system, in which poor, desperate women exchange sex for money. No risks there.

    No, no, Zar, you don’t understand. They’re not supposed to do that, either. They only way to avoid exploiting poor woman is to keep them from participating in the market completely. That is, only by keeping them poor can we keep them from being exploited. They’re obviously much better off that way.

    More seriously, I find this “concern” about exploitation to be vilely paternalistic. Oh, those poor women obviously aren’t smart enough to make intelligent decisions, so we’ll protect them by outlawing such possibilities for improving their position in life.

    Just how many semesters, particularly at a community college, could a few of the many surplus eggs a woman has, pay for?

  39. #39 William Wallace
    July 3, 2009

    I would have no problem with the government subsidizing the procedure in full or in part (funding being available). It would be unethical to pay more than the costs.

    Hmn. Why would it be unethical? Why shouldn’t the potential baby mamas get a taste of the money it saves the government?

  40. #40 Prometheus
    July 6, 2009

    Sascha,

    2004/23/EC Chapter III Donor Selection and Evaluation Article 12 and 13

    Do you find those articles self contradictory. 12 seems to indicate there is no individual property right in human tissue including cells (oocytes) and 13 seems to indicate there is.

    Janet Radcliffe Richards wrote an interesting article about the regulations in practice and Julian Savulescu has been presenting papers on the subject.
    http://www.practicalethicsnews.com/practicalethics/
    They are competent ethicists and seem to be pretty straight forward.

    They keep chanting an interesting ethical principle, “ Irresistible is not equivalent to exploitative.”

    The consensus seems to be to set a minimum and let the bidding begin.

    I’ll sell a kidney for a million bucks.

    I don’t care if they need it to save the last unicorn or Donald Trump wants it for a doorstop.

  41. #41 Bram
    July 8, 2009

    Let’s get clear on this first:
    We are talking about healthy, conscious and informed women who are willing to lend their body for scientific research in return for money?

    Sounds a lot like the testing of medicine, for which here in the Netherlands you can get compensation too (although not always), sometimes adding up to 1500-2000 and more Euro’s)

    Since the Euthanasia laws and the Groningen protocol there were quite some ‘Dutch Medicine = Nazi Medicine’ accusations coming from the other end of the big deep, so we might as well open up the hose so more. Put differently I’m failing to see the difference between donating/selling your eggs and participating in drugresearch in return for money.

    If dr Mengele is on the other end of this slippery slope, I’m in need of new glasses, because I didn’t notice him lately here in the Netherlands.

    As far as ERV’s post: I don’t see her saying that ethical concerns are no concern to this ‘organtrading’ in her post. See is taking apart some bad arguments against it. And I think one can say this is indeed quite ludicrous:

    “Moreover, critics worry that the move could lead to the exploitation of women, especially poor women, who tend not to be in demand for infertility donation.”

    In particular the addendum of ‘especially poor women’ appears strange to me, because it means there is something to be said about the not-poor women being at risk of exploitation. This part is however not elaborated. Now I can’t seem to figure out where ERV got her quotes from, but I found
    http://geneticsandsociety.org/article.php?id=4741&&printsafe=1
    This article also doesn’t elaborate on the addendum, which is making the entire argument look like a piece of placebic information to get the ‘exploitation tantrum’ across. At least that is if you think the difference in exploitation between rich and not-rich is important, since the rest of the arguments are focussed on this money issue. If one could show these arguments are invalid, the case falls. Thinking/arguing away the money issue (which is also done properly imo in the article I linked) I’d be happy to be informed on the rationale behind the exploitation of women. Where’s the exploiting? If they were to give them away for free it wouldn’t be exploiting I guess.

    Or is it the woman-thing; do they need more protection? If men where able to donate/sell their Leydig-cell for research would it be different? I wouldn’t be to surprised if it were the case. (hmz, perhaps I could do some polling on my blog) The fact that the payment is comparable to payment for drugresearch does make it look like a ‘womanthing’.

    Ofcourse there is this other argument, which is not concerning money:

    “People recognize that eggs can make a baby. That’s a very concrete good for society. But you can’t be sure any biological material you collect for research will be part of a medical breakthrough. That’s the goal, but you can’t be sure”

    Anyone with a bit of anatomical understanding should be able to see through this strange argument imo. Of course I could be told wrong in Anatomy classes that most of the ‘possible babies’ a woman has in her ovaries don’t ever make it to becoming a baby, but I believe I’m right on that.

    And if I were to donate blood I too am not sure whether it is given to a drunk driver or the victim of the collision the drunk driver caused. But if that where a general reason not to give blood, the victim would die, as well as the drunk driver. (in fact this also applies to the “who tend not to be in demand of…” piece of the first argument I cited) This argument is also not affected by whether or not I’m getting paid for my blood imo.

    It could be me, but I also see an extreme version of ‘a fertilized egg = a human person’ (and killing human persons is wrong) in the ‘egg can make baby’ argument. But then again a man should also not spill his seed…

    All in all ERV has done a nice job of ripping a useless ethicist a new one (in the proverbial sense of the word). Yeah sure, she has a problem with non-scientist (and I guess especially ethicists) telling scientists what to do dating back from her blogspot blog. And yes, she isn’t shy in showing it. But I agree with here here: if these are the arguments they come up with, they are just a pain in the arse. (Nevertheless I don’t agree with her on the uselessness of ethicists)

    Now then, I tried to define some arguments mere precisely and in favour of ERV’s point, because I think she is quite right. I’m looking forward to your replies.

  42. #42 Prometheus
    July 8, 2009

    Thanks Bram,

    That’s interesting but I have a question about 2004/23/EC Chapter III Donor Selection and Evaluation Article 12 and 13 and how it applies in the Netherlands.

    If I was in the U.K. and suffering from a fatal inoperable Oprahtoma, I could not choose to offer up my liver to my compatible friend Drinky McBoozenheimer. My liver gets thrown into the great governmental bathtub of livers on the off chance that somebody the parliament deems more moraly deserving than Drinky McBoozenheimer pops up before it rots.

    In fact the only recognized property interest I have in my own tissues is the right to deny their use before and after death.

    So what are the Dutch doing? Sovereignty over your own bodies or not?