So it's come to this, too: Ova for cash

Egg donations increase in the face of recession.

Published July 31, 2008 9:00PM (EDT)

As we've mentioned, the recent economic downturn has driven Americans to some pretty desperate measures. And with reports suggesting that the recession may hit women harder than men, it's no wonder a number of lady-specific strategies are cropping up. A Las Vegas-based Fox affiliate is running a story that claims clinics have seen a dramatic rise in egg donation since April. According to a fertility specialist at the Center for Egg Options in Illinois, the number of donors has increased by 30 percent.

What's strange about the piece isn't the phenomenon itself so much as the way Fox reports it. The article implies that egg donations are usually purely altruistic acts and seems vaguely disapproving of women's monetary motivations. One woman is said to have "admitted the main reason she's donating eggs is because she's struggling financially." Admitted? As though she's got something to be ashamed of? And Dr. Bruce Shapiro, of the Fertility Center of Las Vegas, told Fox "he hopes the economy is not the main reason more women are donating. 'We really try to have people who donate for altruistic reasons. That's the best of all worlds.'"

I've known plenty of women who have considered donating eggs -- mostly to pay back college loans, incidentally -- and they've never attempted to justify their interest by waxing sentimental about giving some poor, infertile stranger the baby she couldn't have had on her own. While that, of course, is a happy side effect, is it really reasonable to expect women to endure invasive surgery, not to mention a grueling selection process (candidates who aren't between the ages of 19 and 33, in perfect health and height/weight proportionate need not apply), just so someone they've never met before can conceive? And while we're at it, are sperm donors also supposed to espouse such lofty ideals?

By Judy Berman

Judy Berman is a writer and editor in Brooklyn. She is a regular contributor to Salon's Broadsheet.

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