Eggs for Sale

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

The Empire State Stem Cell Board recently announced that stem cell researchers in New York can use public money to pay women who donate their eggs for research. Brooke Ellison, 2006 state senate candidate, quadriplegic and advisory board member to the Genetics Policy Institute and Fr. Thomas Berg, executive director of the Westchester Institute for Ethics & the Human Person and a member of New York State Stem Cell Science's ethics committee, discuss the decision.Do you think it's ethical to compensate women for egg donation? Would you donate your eggs--and if so, why? For the money--or to further scientific research? Comment below!


Thomas Berg and Brooke Ellison

Comments [30]

gwynn from orland0

i dont want my tax dollars going to pay women who donate their eggs. i wont donate mine thats for sure and im against paying someone who will. i feel its almost along the lines of using tax payer money to fund abortions. thats not right

Sep. 08 2009 07:43 PM
Paige from NY

I am a reporter interested in this story and and am trying to get in touch with the caller "Joyce" from Williamsburg. Joyce please contact me at
Thank you.

Jul. 28 2009 11:06 AM
rylan ritch from magnolia tx

i am intersited in buying one of your peacock chickens

Jul. 16 2009 01:06 PM
VanessaB from Connecticut

As you stated, this is using one's body. We all use our bodies in various ways to make money. The real question for me is not "is a body being used to provide a service" but instead the question should be "to what purpose?" There is a very powerful altruistic purpose for the majority of egg donors. They are screened to make certain they are NOT doing this due to financial duress, as you have suggested.

The trend now is open donation, and anyone who has sat with two women who are working together to bring life forth when there may have been only death previously (as in my case, with many miscarriages) would see that the process is so far beyond financial in nature.

I value knowing what I am helping my egg donor do in her family, while I have such gratitude for the chance to allow someone to give such a gift to me that it leaves me utterly astounded.

I know this is controversial, and I do respect those views. Just thought I'd share mine as a woman who has had repeated pregnancy loss, and is now hoping to have a healthy egg become a healthy baby.

(Oh, and for those who always ask why we am not adopting--we are adopting. But there are many people who wish to have the biological connection for one parent, or after so much loss or never having been pregnant or years of very corrosive infertility, a woman might have a tremendous longing to give birth--this is a very primal need for many and can drive the decision to use donor egg.)

Jun. 30 2009 03:20 PM
VanessaB from Connecticut

Anyway, as I have hinted, my donor is using the fee for a very specific and very special purpose. Her life does not resemble the portrait you have painted. She is a very active person in her community with a great deal to offer. She is a Phd, and her husband is an attorney. She has done this previously, and says it was one of the most rewarding experiences of her life, and says that helping a couple start their family is a uncomparable privilege.

She has begun medications, and when it is time, she will have to fly across the country and spend a few days in a state she has never visited. At the clinic, she will undergo a procedure that is very uncomfortable. She will need a few hours to recover, and then she will fly back home, and there she will stop the meds, which will require her body adjusts once more. Not easy.

Jun. 30 2009 03:19 PM
VanessaB from Connecticut

Matt from Queens, you seem to know a bit about the egg donation process. I'm interested in hearing how you know what this process entails.

As for your comment, "...still, there's a troubling assumption in our culture that anything you get paid for is a fair contract. selling one's body is almost always based on financial duress, and any contract made under duress is invalid. why do we always tolerate that when it comes to women's bodies?"

I think this is a very valid question. And I especially appreciate your asking it as a man.

Since I am using an egg donor, let me give you an idea of some of what is going on (I actually can't share everything about my donor's financial reason for doing this since she has asked for privacy and her use of the money is so specific, it would reveal too much about her).

Jun. 30 2009 03:19 PM
Voter from Brooklyn

Ann #18, I sure she would apologize for her scratchy voice from talking while on a ventilator after being paralyzed from being hit by a car…. If she had the breath to.

Jun. 30 2009 11:43 AM
Ben from NYC

Nothing new here, just more religion trying to crush scientific progress. Why does a tax exempt organization have equal air time when discussing tax payer funded research anyway?

Oh, that's right, they believe they have a monopoly on morals.

Jun. 30 2009 11:38 AM
John from Brooklyn

Why is Andrea Bernstein "calling" the guest on his use of the term "cloning"?!!

That's what it's called! And whether or not -- as a matter of taste or aesthetics -- Bernstein happens to like that use of the term is irrelevant.

She wasted more than a minute of the conversation trying to score some kind of point on a non-issue.

Jun. 30 2009 11:34 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

Jgarbuz… I’ll say it outright, I think your irate outrage is misappropriated. That aside… We all know what men need to do to donate sperm, what phlebotomists have to so is only slightly more complex. What women have to do to donate eggs is quite another thing. It’s more like donating bone marrow, a kidney, or part of a liver over spitting into a cup.
As far as being outraged… well, I know from your previous posts, that there are many things you care about that this country bleeds money over (in the billions) that others feel they shouldn’t. Tone it down a little.

Jun. 30 2009 11:33 AM
Marcy Feller from New York, NY

Individuals that participate in medical studies are routinely compensated (although often way too little). Why should women contributing eggs for research not be compensated for the resource they provide?

Jun. 30 2009 11:31 AM
Eleni from NYC

Fr. Berg either is running for public office , or he needs to re-read the US Constitution: 1st Amendment

Jun. 30 2009 11:30 AM
ann from nyc

This woman's voice is so scratchy i cant take it!!!

Jun. 30 2009 11:29 AM
Sarah from Manhattan

#10 Matt, ask me. I offered my eggs. No one was offering money.

Jun. 30 2009 11:29 AM
Chris from New York

Great! Women should be paid to undergo this surgery to donate their eggs to this study when/if they want to.

I'm so tired of religious organizations telling women what they can or can't do with their bodies. This is why so many men & women have distanced themselves from the church. The church is judgmental, opinionated, etc. Jesus said, "He who throws the first stone..."

Besides, what medical research doesn't pay study participants??

Jun. 30 2009 11:28 AM
Alaina Zulli from Brooklyn

It seems to me that Fr. Berg is simply opposed on moral grounds, and it would behoove him to admit that.

I'm thrilled to hear about this research, and will consider taking part in it. I've rejected being an egg donor in the past because I don't wish to be involved in reproduction, but stem cell research is a worthy and necessary cause.

Thank you to Brooke Ellison for her courage.

Jun. 30 2009 11:28 AM
Inquisigal from Brooklyn

As someone who looked into donating eggs years ago, I can't imagine anyone participating in a program like this not getting oodles of information on the risks, what the procedure involves, and the time it will take to go through the process. Donors also get screened via a long series of questions and background checks.
To imply that women are going to be taken advantage of if we decide to do this is incredibly patriarchal. I also was going to do it for the money, but was happy that I would also be helping others. I feel the money was completely valid, as it was meant to compensate me for the substantial amount of time it takes to go through the process. Because of that time comittment, I chose not to do it in the end. Now, 8 years later, I may have to go through a similar process as a means to conceive my own child. I think this - like abortion - should be left to individuals to choose to do or not.

Jun. 30 2009 11:26 AM
Charles from East Village

Quick question - why is Father Berg even a part of this conversation? This is an issue about a women's body. Something that should be decided by women. It is sad that Father Berg thinks so little of women and that they can not make informed decisions about their own bodies.

Jun. 30 2009 11:25 AM
Alaina from Weehawken

I am sure I would not have been selected as a donor if I had not been attending an Ivy League university. However, all those I've known who were interested, including myself, were doing it for the money. I am curious whether these statistics are coming from extrapolations based on educational status, or from knowledge of the donor's actual income?

Jun. 30 2009 11:25 AM
mattt from lic, queens

please don't reduce this to sperm v. eggs! by no means is it analogous. sperm donation doesn't hurt, egg donation hurts a lot. sperm donation carries absolutely no health risks, egg donation carries serious risks -- both short-term and long-term.

it's not the same. please don't be reductivist.

Jun. 30 2009 11:24 AM
mattt from lic, queens

i would really like to see her data that women are primarily moved to do this for altruistic reasons.

Jun. 30 2009 11:22 AM
jgarbuz from Queens

This is outrageous, that taxpayers' monies can be so willfully and blatlantly misappropriated and misdirected to fund feminist miscreants and dubious stem cell research. I can see why the Red Cross might pay a small sum for blood used directly to aid people at death's doorstep, but to pay some woman $10,000 taxpayer dollars for her eggs to engage in ethically dubious research is, IMO, simply criminal and taxpayers should be up in arms over it.

Jun. 30 2009 11:21 AM
thatgirlinnewyork from manhattan

sperm "doners" are often actually compensated--why is it not okay on the female side of the equation, particularly for valuable research on diseases and disability? why can't an individual decide what they do with their own physical tissue??

Jun. 30 2009 11:21 AM
Sarah from Manhattan

for the record Brian did a show on this last year and I actually called the Harvard scientist he interviewed and offered my eggs for the sake of science not money.

Money is not the only motivator to do things for the good of society.

Jun. 30 2009 11:20 AM

How does Father feel about sperm "donors?"

Jun. 30 2009 11:19 AM
mattt from lic, queens

i don't see this as just another two-sided issue, as it's being treated here. i'm as much opposed to the church's interference in women's reproductive rights as anyone else, and i'm certainly in favor of stem cell research.

still, there's a troubling assumption in our culture that anything you get paid for is a fair contract. selling one's body is almost always based on financial duress, and any contract made under duress is invalid. why do we always tolerate that when it comes to women's bodies?

Jun. 30 2009 11:19 AM
Tricia from Brooklyn

One thing that is not clear to me in this discussion is whether the eggs themselves or embryos are needed for stem cell research. If it is embryos, is there a program for couples who have "extra" embryos after IVF to donate those? Do they?

I think the informed consent issue is interesting. But, if that is truly not an issue, why shouldn't women be compensated for their eggs? Aren't men compensated for their sperm?

Jun. 30 2009 11:19 AM
Voter from Brooklyn

I understand and respect the Father’s position; however, it would be informative to know if he feels the same way in regards to harvesting eggs when it comes to women storing healthy eggs while they are young, women donating eggs to the infertile (possibly out of both empathy and cash), and harvesting eggs when they are manipulated by doctors to create new life?

Jun. 30 2009 11:17 AM
hjs from 11211

let's be honest the church is always against anything to do with in vitro fertilization

Jun. 30 2009 11:12 AM

I don't even know why this is an issue. Other subjects of medical studies receive compensation - why not in this case? I can't imagine women will subject themselves to this process for their health!

Jun. 30 2009 11:10 AM

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