Debate This: Would You Donate Your Eggs For Cash?

All manner of experts are asserting that the wheels have come off our already craptacular economy and no imminent signs of an upturn are apparent. Massive layoffs across all sectors are forcing even the most resourceful among us to tighten belts and come up with innovative ways to earn extra scratch. Which is why it’s not altogether shocking that in the midst of this fiscal catastrophe, there’s been a marked uptick in women signing on to donate eggs. At roughly $8,000 a throw, it certainly seems like a viable option for fertile ladies, and an act that was once relegated to cash-strapped college girls looking for ways to pay off their debt has spread to folks with more pedestrian monetary needs, like making rent. “I kind of thought of the whole thing as a big experiment,” says Elena, a 23-year-old neuroscience student at Columbia who just completed the egg harvesting process and says she’d consider doing it again. “I liked the idea of helping another woman. I understand preferring egg donation over adoption. Some of the research I do is about prenatal insults and how they can lead to all kinds of terrible things like increased risk of schizophrenia and autism, so I can understand wanting to have as much control as possible over the prenatal environment.” And the extra dough to get her through her first semester of grad school didn’t hurt either.

In researching this story, I expected to be hard-pressed to find more than a couple of girls who were avidly pro-egg donation, or who had undergone the procedure themselves. In fact, the opposite was true. Friends and friends of friends came out of the woodwork to share stories of their first-hand experiences, and it was actually more difficult finding someone who had not considered donating their eggs than someone who either wouldn’t rule it out or would actively pursue it, both as a sort of philanthropic act and as a relatively painless (if you don’t mind needles or side effects similar to menopause) way to make a good chunk of change. Below, two women fight the good fight for and against.

Yes, definitely!
No way, dude.
Here’s the thing: I’ve always been pro-donation as an option. If I were doing it for shopping money, I might change my mind at the last minute. But if it came down to rent vs. my egg, I’d do it in a second. That’s quite a bit of money to me. And I’m not using my eggs right now. Or any time in the foreseeable future. I will, hopefully, someday. 

I understand that there are risks, but I take a risk every time I get on my bike in New York City and that doesn’t come with an $8,000 reward.I know that I’d probably get a lot of money for my egg, and I’m sure that plays into my openness to it. I’m not dying to put more white kids on the earth, but I know lots of people are, so if they want my blue-eyed, blond-haired (that I dye red) genes, I’m OK with that.  

I can’t imagine feeling any emotional attachment to what I equate to a part of my period. If someone wants to pay me $8,000 for my egg, I don’t really care what they do with it. Well, unless they’re going to implant it with crazy Republican genes or something. It’s like organ donation. Once I’m dead I won’t need my liver. And once that egg is out of my body, it does me no good.  I don’t have health insurance and it’d probably be better health care than I’ve seen in years.  

– Lane Cooper, 26, Brooklyn, NY

I think it is wrong to donate my eggs to help rich people use fertility treatments to find the “perfect” baby with a Ph.D. student’s eggs while there are still many children who really need homes in the U..S and around the world. I think we should try to help the people who are already actually on the planet before we try to go and create more life just because that life might have a prettier package (i.e., SAT scores, education, hair color, etc.). If people really want a baby they should do what people like Madonna and Angelina did and adopt babies who are really suffering and give them a better life.  

I also think paying women for their eggs is unethical. If you are going to college campuses, offering to pay young women who have tons of educational debt, $10,000 or whatever, it is creating a situation where people are “forced” into it. It’s sort of like prostitution. If you are in a certain income bracket, and someone is offering you money for your eggs or your coo-tang, it’s sort of forced situation and it’s not really a choice anymore. To me it’s using economic means to force people into a decision that they may or may not make otherwise. 

As for me, personally, I don’t have children yet so I think if I donated my eggs and then something happened and I couldn’t have my own baby, it would be really upsetting to me and it would make me really sad to think that there would be a baby out there that was actually mine and someone else’s besides my fiancé’s — that part is also strange to me.  It’s like I had sex genetically with someone who was not my partner. I’m not saying that we should ban it totally. I think that fertility treatments help a lot of people. But I think for me at this point in my life I could never do it. Ethically and politically, I have some problems with the whole “business” end of it. 

– Madge Rose, 28, Orange County, CA