Where are the “investigative” journalists?
One of the realities of In-vitro Fertilization (IVF) is that, in many cases, it requires young women to sell their eggs so that infertile women wanting to have a babies of their own can buy them. This egg “donation” (some ads for eggs offer women up to $100,000) carries with it great risks, but you wouldn’t know it based on the “investigative” journalism we get served up these days. Falsehood abounds. To wit,
One article claims, “Donors do not have to be mothers themselves and donating eggs does not affect the donor’s own possibilities of having children.” False! See the video below or catch the film Lines That Divide.
Dr. Eli Reshef writes, “I have been personally supervising egg donation since 1994 without a single incident of severe injury or death. This is also the experience of the few other providers of this valuable service in our state. There is no scientific evidence for an increased risk to one’s fertility or health from donating eggs. Worldwide, more than 32 years of experience with in vitro fertilization have shown no long-term adverse effect from ovarian stimulation or egg retrieval.” False! While Dr. Reshef may not personally know of anyone who has suffered “severe injury or death” from egg “donation,” that doesn’t mean it hasn’t happened. In fact, how would the good doctor know that “there is no scientific evidence,” since there is no egg donor registry or follow up on any of these women. Once they donate their eggs and are compensated, they may as well not exist. But they’re starting to come out of the woodwork. Lest you think this is just bald assertion, read this story. The bald assertions are coming from those who say there’s no evidence of long-term effects. There may not be (though what should we make of these women who are coming forward?), but shouldn’t we do the follow-up studies to make sure?
In an article from Arizona, “Sen. Rebecca Rios, D-Apache Junction, said there is no evidence that women [who donate their eggs] are not told the risks of the procedure. She said the Legislature should butt out.” False! They can’t be told the risks because the long-term risks have never been studied, as Jennifer Schneider, a Tucson physician, correctly notes in the same article. The objection is usually raised that no studies have ever shown a link between the hormones women take to hyper-stimulate their ovaries and a higher incidence of cancer. True enough, but the proper long-term studies on women who have taken the hormone Lupron have not been conducted such that women could be reassured that there is not a link.
Jennifer Lahl, National Director of The Center for Bioethics and Culture says it well, Egg donation is risky business. But unlike other high-risk jobs that offer appropriate compensation for the dangers (e.g., skyscraper window washing), the egg donation process is inherently risky, from beginning to end. What are those risks? Stroke, organ failure, infection, cancer, loss of future fertility, and in rare instances, even death. Sadly, longer-term risks remain a mystery, let alone properly understood, because of the lack of any long-term medical research or follow-ups on egg donors.
Where’s are the journalists on this? Where are the feminists? And forget about IVF. If we’re going to ramp up on embryonic stem cell research and “therapeutic” cloning, as it looks like we’re set to do, we’re going to need a whole pile more eggs than we currently have. Where are we going to get them? And how much money is going to change hands?