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The UK’s Prolific Egg Donor: Are There Ethical Issues

The UK's Prolific Egg Donor: Are There Ethical IssuesAdvances in medical technology have enabled many persons who would once be denied the pleasures of parenthood a new lease on life. One of these new techniques is donor eggs from a female who allows her eggs to be harvested and implanted into another. As with so many aspects of the issue of fertility and reproduction, there have been a number of concerns raised about the practice. In fact, the issue has often bordered on the controversial.

Take for example a woman in Britain, who was written about recently. According to reports, the woman, whose identity has not been revealed, has donated eggs leading to 11 births. The only way this woman will ever know any of these children is if they decide at some point to find her. Of course that would depend on whether or not their parents decide to reveal the details of their conception to them.

Apparently this woman holds the record for the number of babies born from one donor’s eggs. I guess it’s safe to assume that there may be more babies for her in the future. Now this particular case raises the possibility of a number of scenarios. If even half of these children decide at some point that they want to meet her, how much would that complicate her life if at all? How would that affect the relationships between these children and the parents who raised them? Of course there are many other what ifs that could arise here.

Ethical issues aside, there are some who feel that women who donate eggs are putting their health at risk. Josephine Quintavalle of the organization, Comment on Reproductive Ethics, was quoted in the article as saying, “We have to ask how many times should women be exposed to the drugs used for egg donation if it is not for any benefit to themselves.”

It is not fair to offer one blanket explanation for why women make the decision to donate their eggs. Some do it for altruistic reasons, while obviously some do it for the money. But that in itself is not necessarily a bad thing. Let’s say that the woman desperately needs the money for one reason or another. Would objectors to the practice be less inclined to judge her harshly? At any rate, doing something for the financial reward is not in itself a selfish reason.

I guess I am supportive of things that will help couples who want to be parents achieve that dream. Clearly this not a decision that any woman should take lightly, afterall, the donor egg process like any other medical procedures has some element of risk. I can only hope that these donors receive the best medical advice possible, and that every precaution is taken to safeguard their health and that of any children they have in the future.


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