Trying to conceive can be difficult enough without thinking about the larger questions of how the fertility business operates, including how donor eggs and sperm are bought and sold. Recent news about a man whose donated sperm has fathered 150 children is just the most recent sign of a what some see as a woeful lack of oversight into the business side of assisting those struggling with infertility to conceive and deliver a healthy child.
A new book out from the University of California Press, Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm, written by Rene Almeling, a professor at Yale University, looks at the “bustling market” of buying and selling eggs and sperm. “Although both men and women are usually drawn to donation for financial reasons, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the payments as remuneration for an easy ‘job,’” notes the publisher’s description of the book. “Women receive more money but are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as the ultimate ‘gift’ from one woman to another.” A number of sites and publications have reviewed the new book, from Salon.com to The Huffington Post, which appears to be a fairly academic take on the topic, but perhaps a good one if you want to dive deeper into a topic that may be much on your mind these days. Sex Cells also reminds us of a similar book that came out a few years ago, The Baby Business: How Money, Science, and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception, by Debora L. Spar. Another good source if you want to read up on this topic.
What do you think: Should the economics of infertility be regulated more – or should rules be loosened?