The San Francisco Bay Area’s CBS affiliate recently ran a segment (video appears below) on the high demand and low supply of young Asian women willing to provide their eggs for other people’s fertility treatment. The clip focuses on the story of a young woman named Linh Hong, a tall, thin Berkeley grad with a 3.6 GPA – characteristics that, along with being Asian, yielded $15,000 for her eggs. Two couples are now expecting due to her services.
The segment provides a decent overview of the issue, but is troublesome in at least two regards. First, it does not discuss the risks that egg providers face, which include ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome that has led to serious adverse reactions and even death in some cases. Linda Yee, the journalist covering the story, only mentions the “grueling series of shots, doctors visits, and egg extraction surgery.”
A bit more detail here would have been useful, especially when astronomical compensation numbers upwards of $100,000 are thrown around in the segment at the very same time that many young women are feeling crushed by dramatic tuition hikes that have spawned campus protests across the state – including Berkeley, which is heavily targeted by egg brokers.
Second, the segment’s focus on Asian eggs makes it seem like these are the only racial traits that yield high compensation in the fertility market; historically, blond hair and blue eyes have been just as valuable if not more so. While the segment touches upon issues within Asian communities that may make this practice taboo (where scarcity drives demand upwards), a broader look at the traits sought by prospective parents would have provided greater context to a statement made by Stanford University bioethicist David Magnus in the segment: “What we have is the beginning of the specter of eugenics.”
Posted in Assisted Reproduction, California, Civil Society, Egg Retrieval, Eugenics, Osagie Obasogie's Blog Posts, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights
Comments are now closed for this item.