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Tuesday, January 17, 2017
Are poor women being pushed into becoming IVF donors?
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 IVF clinics may be exploiting poorer women by encouraging them to participate in egg-sharing schemes in exchange for free treatment services, Comment on Reproductive Ethics said yesterday. "It certainly sounds to us like exploitation of the most vulnerable,'" said Josephine Quintavalle, CORE Director. "The clinics involved in this trade in human eggs are bending over backwards to explain how squeaky clean their transactions are, but we're not at all convinced. The fees for sperm and egg donation as laid down by the Human Fertilisation & Embryology Authority are limited to a token 15, plus expenses. How does this tally with the large sums of money involved in egg-sharing? The donor gets thousands of pounds worth of treatment free and the recipient pays a much higher fee than usual for IVF when donated eggs are used. It makes an absolute mockery of the 15 limit. "And how any of this is compatible with the HF&E Act 12(e) is beyond our comprehension. There it states most clearly 'that no money or other benefit shall be given or received in respect of any supply of gametes or embryos unless authorized by directions'. "Egg-sharing is not without purely physical problems. There are definite risks associated with egg harvesting and these are inevitably going to be increased if one is trying to get as many eggs as possible from the donor, rather than the minimum which she might normally require. For the most part the donors do not have difficulty in producing healthy eggs (unlike the recipients) and probably do not need to produce large numbers of eggs. "And what about the recipient? Is she being hoodwinked too? No matter how much she may wish otherwise, a child created from another woman's egg, is simply not her genetic child. So the recipient remains infertile, getting almost as bad a deal as the donor. And nobody at all seems the least interested in the rights of the genetically confused half-siblings created by these techniques. "We should be doing everything possible to help couples have their own children, not setting up unsavoury barter schemes for human eggs. In CORE's opinion, if poorer women find themselves enticed into these dodgy schemes, considerable blame should be placed at the door of our public health service. "Our NHS should start to address the issues of infertility in a much more serious way, and offer proper help and support to those who have these problems, especially those unable to afford the private system."
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