Recession & Eggs & Sperm Donors

From the Boston Globe: Recession spurs egg and sperm donations

Charitable donations may be down because of the recession, but another type of donation is up for the very same reason: egg and sperm.

More women are trying to make money by offering their eggs to infertile couples, and men are doing the same with their sperm. Egg donor agencies in the Boston area report that their applications are up from between 25 and 100 percent over this time a year ago, and New England sperm banks have seen a similiar trend in the past six months.

Except, of course, they’re not donations.

…applications from women who want to offer their eggs have doubled in the past year, with the bulk coming in the past six months. If a woman meets the agency’s criteria, she earns $10,000 every time she donates. (Technically, the women are compensated for their time and inconvenience; it is illegal to sell one’s eggs.)

So what’s the role of money? What should it be? One fertility specialist weighs in:

“The money that’s given is limited; it’s not going to be something to create a yearly revenue to get them through life,” he said.

He believes in compensating women for their time and trouble but said there needs to be “some ethics to it” – both an altruistic motive and a monetary limit.

“When I see people who want to ‘sell’ their eggs for $20,000 or more it makes no sense, because then it becomes commercial, like selling any other thing,” he said. “There has to be a little bit of kindness, because these couples have had a lot of hardship and desire a child very strongly.”


About Chris MacDonald

I'm a philosopher who teaches at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management in Toronto, Canada. Most of my scholarly research is on business ethics and healthcare ethics.
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