Payment to egg donors is ethical argues academics
Academics from the University of Alberta argue that payment for egg donation is not unethical.
Egg donors in the UK are paid £750 at the moment to cover their expenses in line with the new HFEA (Human fertilisation and Embryology Authority) rules. To be able to qualify for this payment the egg donors do have to produce evidence of expenses and lost earnings. This is suggested to be unfair on the egg donors by some whilst others argue that any payment to egg donors should be banned altogether.
In other countries, payment to egg donors is prohibited. It was suggested that those who support a criminal ban on commercial transactions must, then, believe that the harm sought to be prevented by criminal prohibitions arises out of the financial aspect of the exchange. The assumption is that the offer of compensation or payment is what gives rise to the potential for coercion or undue inducement in the egg-donation context.
Supporters of this ban may be correct: It may indeed be the case that commercializing gamete exchange is harmful. To date, however, we simply do not know whether commercializing this transaction is harmful to women. There is little evidence available about women's experiences as gamete providers (egg donors), but what evidence there is does not suggest that women see these commercial transactions as exploitative.
Professor U. Ogbogu gives the example of a study by Newcastle University which found that women participating in an egg-sharing-for-research scheme (whereby IVF patients agree to share eggs with stem cell researchers in exchange for reduced treatment costs) do not see commercial incentives for egg donation as exploitative, nor do they view their eggs through a single moral or cultural lens that negates the possibility of commercial exchange.
The study also suggests that women involved in such schemes want to evaluate the options and constraints for themselves, a fact that should serve as caution for those who often profess to know "what women want" in these matters, or propose paternalistic rules to protect women from speculative fears.
Although the Canadian federal legislation on assisted reproduction has been on the books since 2004, neither the federal government nor its (soon-to-be defunct) agency, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, has taken any action to enforce the rules in spite of reports in the media suggesting that women are being paid for their eggs. The existence of restrictive rules coupled with a lack of enforcement has led to the development of a market that operates in the shadows, where women are uncertain as to the legal status of the transactions in which they participate. Ironically, this grey market is far more likely to cause harm to women than a regulated market would, an idea which seems both evident and lost in current federal oversight of this area.
Our donors who are from diverse backgrounds are paid well and looked after well and with respect for their contribution says Dr. Tekin, Director of the UKCFA and the Cyprus IVF Centre (CIC). "This is the least we can do. They have altruistic motivation to donate anyway and we know that from our own research", he adds. "This is a token of our appreciation. Nothing more. The donors go through IVF treatment to get ready to donate and for their trouble I think it is completely acceptable that they are compensated. This is not payment. If it was, it simply would not have been enough!". He also suggests that egg-sharing schemes are no different than payment just under a different name and no one should fool themselves.