By Robin von Halle

The Hastings Center, a nonpartisan research institution dedicated to bioethics and public interest, recently published a study of compensation rates in ads for egg donors in 300 college newspapers.

It found that a quarter of the ads offered more than $10,000 to women for donation of their eggs. Offers in the ads ranged from $10,000 to as much as $50,000. The study also found a compensation increase of $2,350 for each additional 100 SAT points in the average score for a given university.

Clearly, there’s something wrong with this picture. The idea of incremental compensation based on one measure of intelligence lends itself to the idea of “designer babies,” where intended parents pay premiums for certain traits that are deemed socially desirable.

It also flies in the face of guidelines of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine stating that compensation over $10,000 is inappropriate. Should payments to egg donors increase without limits, so would the chances that women will discount the risks of donation. The ASRM also emphasizes that higher payments based on socially desirable traits or measures (like SAT scores) devalue the human life and turn an egg into a commodity.

Under our philosophy of doing business, ARR has made a promise to all intended parents and egg donors that we will compensate egg donors for their time, effort and inconvenience. Each donor’s effort is equally valuable. Intended parents are privy to certain information about egg donors so they can use a donor with characteristics similar to their own, not to pick and choose features like you would a car.

It is crucial that egg donation agencies adhere closely to the ASRM guidelines. There is too much controversy and misunderstanding about what we do to add fuel to the fire by allowing ethics to fall by the wayside.