In recent weeks, the private reproductive decisions of Elton John and Sofia Vergara have spilled over into prime time news cycles — albeit by the celebrities themselves. Elton John called for a boycott of all Dolce and Gabbana merchandise after the designers regrettably referred to babies born through in vitro fertilization as “synthetic” children. The swift backlash caused the designers to issue statements of clarification and apology. Elton John’s twitter followers accused D&G of being woefully out of touch — not only with contemporary fashion, but also baby-making. In part, they are right.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), tens of thousands of children are born each year in the United States through assisted reproductive technologies (ART). These technologies provide a stunning candy store of options: a spectrum so vast in array, scope, and breadth as to make heads spin: in vitro fertilization, ova selling, cryopreservation of ova, womb renting, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis, embryo transfer, assisted hatching, intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) of ova, embryo grading, and more. However, these technologies are not just for celebrities.
Michele Goodwin is a law professor at the UC Irvine School of Law. She is also the director of the Center for Biotechnology and Global Health Policy and author of “Baby Markets: Money and The New Politics of Creating Families.”
Risk Disclosure and the Recruitment of Oocyte Donors: Are Advertisers Telling the Full Story?
By Hillary B. Alberta, Roberta M. Berry, and Aaron D. Levine | Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics (Neurosciences Summer 2014, pp. 232 – 243)
This study analyzes 435 oocyte donor recruitment advertisements to assess whether entities recruiting donors of oocytes to be used for in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures include a disclosure of risks associated with the donation process in their advertisements. Such disclosure is required by the self-regulatory guidelines of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and by law in California for advertisements placed in the state. We find very low rates of risk disclosure across entity types and regulatory regimes, although risk disclosure is more common in advertisements placed by entities subject to ASRM’s self-regulatory guidelines. Advertisements placed in California are more likely to include risk disclosure, but disclosure rates are still quite low. California-based entities advertising outside the state are more likely to include risk disclosure than non-California entities, suggesting that California’s law may have a modest “halo effect.” Our results suggest that there is a significant ethical and policy problem with the status quo in light of the known and unknown risks of oocyte donation and the importance of risk disclosure to informed consent in the context of oocyte donation.
Please contact us or the journal directly for a copy of the full study.
In this article, organized into chapters, the author describes her own experience as an egg provider and details the stories of others – including one woman who has so little trouble that she donates five times, and another who develops severe endometriosis symptoms.
One night last summer at my parent’s dinner table, I told my mom and dad that I wanted to help somebody have a baby. The usual lively suppertime conversation and laughter died down, and my parents lost their appetites. They didn’t want to joke about that time I drove my brother’s four-wheeler into a tree anymore.
I told them I am like the thousands of other women — the daughters, sisters, girlfriends or wives at someone else’s dinner table — who donate their eggs to couples who cannot conceive a child on their own.
This investigative piece builds on an earlier Al Jazeera article on Nigeria’s baby farmers.
In conversation with more than ten Nigerian women, the Reuters team documents their experiences being duped into giving up their newborns to strangers – in houses known as “baby factories” – or being offered children whose origins were unknown. It also describes the use of “studs” (men paid to get women pregnant), and the cultural and political context that is making it hard for the Nigerian government to respond.
From computer support and hotel reservations to laboratory results and radiographic interpretations, it seems everything can be ‘outsourced’ in our globalized world. One would not think so with parenthood, however, especially motherhood, as it is a fundamental activity humans have historically preserved as personal and private. In our modern age, however, the advent and accessibility of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and the ease with which they have traversed global borders, has fundamentally altered the meaning of childbearing and parenting.
In the twenty-first century, parenthood is no longer achieved only through gestation, adoption, or traditional surrogacy, but also via assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs), where science and technology play lead roles. Furthermore, in a globalized world economy, where the movement and transfer of people and commodities are increasing to serve the interests of capitalism, gamete donation and surrogate birth can traverse innumerable geographic, socio-economic, racialized, and political borderlands. Thus, reproduction itself can be outsourced.
This edited volume explores one specific aspect of the new assisted reproductive technologies: gestational surrogacy and how its practice is changing the traditional concept of parenthood across the globe. The phenomenon of transnational surrogacy has given rise to a thriving international industry where money is being ‘legally’ exchanged for babies and ‘reproductive labor’ has taken on a lucrative commercial tone. Yet, law, research, and activism are barely aware of this experience and are still playing catch-up with rapidly changing on-the-ground realities. This interdisciplinary collection of essays assuages the dearth of knowledge and addresses significant issues in transnational commercial gestational surrogacy as it takes shape in a peculiar relation between the West (primarily the United States) and India.