Intended for healthcare professionals

Education And Debate

Exploitation or a woman's right?

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 10 May 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1403
  1. Mark V Sauer, chief
  1. a Division of Reproductive Endocrinology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032-3784, USA
  1. Correspondence to: Professor M V Sauer Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, Sloane Hospital for Women, 622 West 168th Street, PH16-28, New York, NY 10032-3784


    Paying women to donate oocytes has sparked much controversy. Interestingly, a duality of practice has evolved. In many parts of the world compensation is prohibited, while in some countries, particularly the United States, donating gametes is handsomely rewarded. It seems naive to presume a consensus will be reached regarding the correct approach. Furthermore, the United States is highly unlikely to curtail or regulate payments by law. Thus, supply and demand will inevitably continue to dictate policy, and the price of oocyte donation will escalate along with donor fees.

    There exists an inherent moral ambiguity in a practice of medicine that simultaneously places young women at risk of infertility while treating the childlessness of other women. Which need is paramount? Do benefits to one group far outweigh the risks posed to the other? These …

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