Bioethics Blogs

Politicize my Bioethics: Compensation for egg cells

by Celina Malavé

“This is my first piece in a series I’m thinking about calling “Politicize my bioethics,” a series that works to give us examples upon which it is absolutely crucial to bring in politics (or really just notice because they are already there), particularly when we are thinking critically about a bioethical issue. In a perfect world, we would be able to have every single identity represented at the table when we are thinking critically about the intersection of medicine, technology, and ethics, but since that is not the case, we must then acknowledge and be aware of the identities each of us is bringing to the table as we work to be future leaders in bioethics.” – Celina Malavé

Egg donation is a recent development in the field of reproductive medicine in which healthy women voluntarily provide around 10-20 mature eggs, or oocytes, for research or assisted reproduction, in exchange for compensation. Prior to donating, donors undergo blood tests—which check hormone levels, blood type, and other markers—a pelvic exam, medical exam, and other evaluations to ensure mental preparedness for donation.[i]  Legal consent forms must also be signed and agreed upon by all parties involved.

To begin the donation process, the donor takes birth control to regulate her menstrual cycle. She is then given a series of powerful hormones injections for weeks prior to donation. A first round of hormones halts ovarian function while a second causes the woman to over-ovulate in order to produce multiple eggs. A final round of injections causes her to release the mature eggs before a minor, yet invasive surgery, is performed to collect the oocytes.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.