This may be my most controversial post to-date. I signed a contract this week to become an egg donor (or ovum donor, in technical terms). Basically, a couple is going to pay over $30,000 to a clinic to try to get pregnant using my egg(s). I get a nice chunk of that for my efforts, about $6500. I found the clinic while looking for part-time work on Craigslist last December. I did my due diligence, and decided the small risks were worth the payout, and I couldn’t come up with an ethical justification for why I shouldn’t do it. I figure, I have over 200,000 eggs in my body, they want to take 10 or 15 and try to make a decent human being, why not?
I learned that couples wanting to use a donor are typically 40-somethings that worked through their prime years and waited until it was too late to conceive a child naturally. Around age 37, fertility takes a nose dive–your eggs are no good anymore.
So for some woman who really wants to go through the birthing process, bonding, etc., she can sometimes conceive using younger, fresher eggs. I guess my main concern in the situation would be the theory (my half-baked theory) that I would probably be the best person, evolutionarily speaking, to care for my own offspring. I suppose in some cases, mothers are unfit to be parents, but I would think that my milk, my touch, etc. would be optimum for raising my own genetic offspring.That’s the only real hangup I have, but it may not even be the case…those qualities are probably immeasurable, so it will forever be a theory of mine.
Now, I’ve thought about the 2 possible worst case scenarios: (1) In 18 years, the child will come knocking down my door having hated his/her life, wishing they were never born, and blaming all their trouble on me and my $6500 decision; (2) The child is raised to embody the opposite of all my values, AND that person will possess my intelligence (which is passed on the mother’s side, from what I’ve heard). In 20-30 years, we will be competing for some ideal (good/evil), a public office, business post, etc., and that person will become my mortal nemesis! Nobody wants a nemesis.
But happily, neither scenario seems likely, so I proceed.
There are some other ethical questions, such as, would you still do it if there was no money involved? I liked the answer one woman gave, that if it was for a family member or friend, they would do it for free, but for a stranger compensation is required. I don’t feel an obligation to provide my eggs for free at any time to anyone who wants to be fruitful and multiply. Many, if not most countries in the world have banned payments to egg donors, to prevent poor college students, or opportunistic young women on the margin, such as myself, from selling precious body parts for money. (I just hope they don’t take ALL the best eggs–leave me some winners!)
Other people have concerns for the multiple embryos that will be produced. That is a whole ‘nother issue. They will freeze the ones they don’t use in the first round. After that, they are free to use them again, donate them to another couple or to scientific research. It does feel strange donating potential humans to research. Then again, there wouldn’t have been any potential humans had there not been scientific intervention in the first place, so there’s your Catch-22.
In general, the old desperate mother’s discipline threat kind of holds true: “I brought you into this world, and I can take you out of it!” Of course, this opens another can of worms about women that kill their children after they are born, whether it is the desperate teenager suffocating the baby she gave birth to secretly in a bathroom stall at the prom, or whether it’s the religious schizopherenic wacko that drowns her children in the bathtub in order to “save” them.
The whole issue of right-to-life is one of the most devisive issues in our country, in our time. Religious proponents & anti-abortion activists are convinced that once the sperm meets the egg, then “bam,” life starts and that that human’s rights are as full as any living, breathing person outside the womb. Therefore, no one, not a mother, not an abortion doctor, has a right to choose to end that life…all reasonable attempts must be made to protect & further the budding human.
Obviously, in order to have a civil society, we must have respect for the rights of others (Golden rule–you wouldn’t want someone to kill/interfere with you, so therefore, you can’t kill/interfere with others).
However, I don’t feel it is as dreadful to kill a developing fetus as it is a person outside the womb. Yes, a fetus feels pain. Yes, a fetus is a person in a specific stage of development. But a fetus hasn’t touched as many other people’s lives yet, so the loss to the human species is less, AT THIS POINT IN TIME, if you kill a fetus versus an adult human. I say at this point in time, because if you took the effect on the universe for all of time, it would be impossible to speculate on. The fetus could grow up to spread peace or cure cancer, or be a bigot or a terrorist, so it could have a wonderful effect on the planet or a devastating one.
And, I might posture for the sake of argument, it is not as dreadful for a mother to kill her own offspring as it is to kill another mother’s offspring. This one is harder to defend, as the child is now valuable to many people other than its mother, but somehow, it feels like it is not as dreadful. Its the same concept as the woman who gets an abortion, versus the jerk that pushes a woman down the stairs, killing the baby she was looking forward to caring for. They are not the same crime from the standpoint of how valuable the baby was from the mother’s perspective. Where the activists would disagree is that the baby is valuable from a broader, human race perspective…that the baby is valuable because it exists.
I think there will come a point in our country, where it already has in some countries, when resources become very scarce, and we will have to make these life & death decisions for the good of the community rather than the individual. If I know there is one pile of food and it feeds X amount of people, and Jim & Jane want to have another baby but that will mean that one of us doesn’t get food, there will be problems. Right to life gets interesting in extreme situations.
Some countries have banned more than one or two children per couple, for example. I personally don’t think I’d have a problem with this if birth control were involved, and if I understood the necessity for the community, but it’s hard to say unless you’ve been in that situation and have had to kill a child that was over quota. Yikes.
Which brings me to the final point I will make tonight. Some people think there are enough children in this world that need good families, so why make your own children? Isn’t that inefficient? Wasteful? Not thinking about the big picture? Furthermore, why go to the trouble of buying eggs to make your own children when there are plenty down the street in the orphanage that need good parents? Foolish pride of accomplishment, I suppose, or simply wanting to take place in the evolutionary ebb & flow of generations that brought you into existence. I’ve said in one of my poems that having a child is the only thing I know I’m destined to do. My most primal drives make me think I want babies. It’s the only obvious thing I was put on this planet for. Everything else is just a guess–the engineering, the writing, the massaging, whatever else I pursue–just a guess.