May 10, 2010

The free market eugenics nonproblem

From the New York Times:
Demand for human ova has been growing in recent years, fueled by infertility treatments and increased investment in stem cell research. Young women at top colleges and universities, long a prized source of eggs, are now being recruited not just through advertising in student newspapers but on Web sites like Facebook and Craigslist, even on highway billboards.

But a study in the most recent issue of The Hastings Center Report, a leading bioethics journal, found that the compensation being touted in ads aimed at young women often exceeded industry guidelines. The study is the latest development in a long-running debate over how much — or even whether — egg donors should be paid.

In the study, Dr. Aaron Levine, an assistant professor of public policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, examined more than 100 egg donation ads from 63 college newspapers. He found that a quarter of them offered compensation exceeding the $10,000 maximum cited in voluntary guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional association.

The guidelines state that payments of $5,000 or more above and beyond medical and related expenses “require justification” and that payments above $10,000 “are not appropriate.” Ads in newspapers at Harvard, Princeton and Yale promised $35,000 for donors, Dr. Levine found, while an ad placed on behalf of an anonymous couple in The Brown Daily Herald offered $50,000 for “an extraordinary egg donor.”

“The concern is that some young women may choose to donate against their own best interests,” Dr. Levine said. “They’ll look at the money on offer and will overlook some of the risks.” 

Uhhmmm, so the solution to the existences of downsides to egg donation is to pay the donors less? Isn't that exactly backwards?

This whole things sounds like when the NCAA periodically announces that its star basketball players should continue to play for them for free instead of playing for the NBA for millions. Of course the NCAA would say that. It's in their financial self-interest. And of course the medical-industrial complex would argue that young women should donate eggs for less than the medical-industrial complex would have to pay on the open market.
The study noted the possibility that the ads represented a “bait and switch” strategy, with large offers primarily designed to lure donors but with prices negotiated downward once they respond. 

That was my reaction to the $50,000 ad at Brown about a decade ago -- somebody in the business was trying to get a lot of cheap publicity by theoretically offering a super high price for the "perfect" donor, but would tell most would-be donors that they only would get a lesser amount. It's a little sleazy, but not really a big deal.
In addition to limiting compensation, the society’s guidelines forbid paying additional fees to egg donors for specific traits. But the study found that every 100-point difference in a university’s average SAT scores was correlated with an increase of more than $2,000 in the fees advertised for potential egg donors in the campus newspaper. 

Duh.

Look, people who can't make babies the old-fashioned way therefore have to select somebody else's eggs or sperm. And that means they have to be practicing eugenicists. (The only alternative is to have somebody else select for you, such as in the bad old days when doctors asked medical students to do the honors on their assumption that M.D.s were the eugenic Master Race.) For example, when Jodie Foster decided she wanted babies but didn't want to have a man touch her, she had to choose somebody's DNA. Being Jodie Foster, Superwoman, she went, perhaps, a little over the top, looking for months before settling on a tall handsome scientist with a 160 IQ.

Our high culture has devoted so much effort to demonizing eugenics in recent decades that it allows self-interested operators to free ride. In a sensible culture, of course egg purchasers should pay more for eggs from donors with more desirable traits. That's how we get more donors with desirable traits to donate.
Fertility clinics, which maintain registries of potential egg donors, tended to observe the guidelines in their ads. Egg donation agencies or brokers, who act as middlemen by linking donors with prospective recipients, were far more likely to advertise the higher payments. Unlike egg donation agencies, fertility clinics are generally members of the Society for Assisted Reproductive Technology, which is affiliated with the A.S.R.M., and are therefore expected to abide by the guidelines.

Ruthie Rosenberg, who graduated from Brown last year, said the ads initially startled her but were so common that she became used to them.

“At first, it was totally shocking to me that people would target specifically what they were looking for, like religion, SAT score and hair color,” said Ms Rosenberg, 22. “But like anything else I was first exposed to at college, the shock wore off.” 

Egg donation is restricted or banned in many industrialized countries. In the United States, by contrast, close to 10,000 children were born through the use of donor eggs in 2006, almost double the number in 2000, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Critics say they fear that young women may not understand the potential physical and long-term psychological risks, including how they might feel years later about the experience. 

The government should mandate "informed consent." But all this logically implies that donors should be paid more to compensate them for the risks, not less.
Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the reproductive medicine society, said that the group had little authority over egg brokers and that concerns expressed about donation smacked of sex discrimination. “It’s interesting to me that people get upset about egg donation in ways they don’t get upset about sperm donation,” he said. “You never hear discussions about, ‘Oh, the sperm donor is going to regret it some day that they have a child.’”

He should also pound the table about Women's Right to Choose.
A typical payment for sperm donation is under $100, and providing the sample is quick. The egg donation process, in contrast, takes weeks.

First, a series of hormone injections stimulate the ovaries to produce 10 or more ova in one cycle. Next, the eggs are extracted surgically, under local anesthesia. The fee received by the donor is for all the eggs produced in the cycle. Once the eggs are fertilized, one or more embryos are implanted in the infertile woman, while the rest are usually frozen for future use.

Donation can cause abdominal swelling, mood swings and hot flashes. The most significant risk is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can cause bloating, abdominal pain, and, rarely, blood clots, kidney failure, and other life-threatening ailments. 

And therefore young women should risk all this for less money than they are getting now? Is that what bioethicists consider ethical?

34 comments:

dsfasdfadsf said...

Dr. Strangelove revised:

"Mein Fuhrer!! I can whack!!"

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

The real problem here is that the government can allow the free market to work when it comes to reforming the American people - via cheaper labor from abroad and adoptees available mostly only from poor, non-white countries; but when it comes to egg donors all the market incentives move the other way, since those buying have the perfect incentives to bid up the price of good eggs from people just like their mostly white selves, and since the supply of them is essentially unlimited.

Yes, sometimes it even sucks to be an International Socialist these days.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't pay for traits? Scary. If these equalists can get their dirty, nihilistic paws on reproductive medicine for good, it will all be over for the West in the long run.

keypusher said...

Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the reproductive medicine society, said that the group had little authority over egg brokers and that concerns expressed about donation smacked of sex discrimination. “It’s interesting to me that people get upset about egg donation in ways they don’t get upset about sperm donation,” he said. “You never hear discussions about, ‘Oh, the sperm donor is going to regret it some day that they have a child.’”


He should also pound the table about Women's Right to Choose.


He probably did, but they didn't quote it. If they had, it would not only have killed the following paragraphs, it would have killed the whole argument about alleged regrets. Might even have killed the article.

Seriously, does anyone think a woman is more likely to regret egg donation than an abortion? But every right-thinking person is outraged by the suggestion that post-abortion regrets are common.

afadfasdfsf said...

This is funny. Harvard's dean Minow gets sooooo pissy about a private email about racial differences in IQ. Elena Kagan banned the military from Harvard because of its discriminatory policies against homos. But Kagan supports affirmative blacktion which clearly discriminates against poor, working class, and middle class whites.
And Minow and Harvard stalwarts seem to have no problem with advertising at Harvard that targets potential egg donors based on biological and cultural factors. If indeed IQ and other human attributes aren't genetically determined(as progressives tell us ad nauseum), what is the justification for allowing advertising on the basis of race, religion, class, status, etc?

So, you can't send a private email about IQ differences between races but you can advertise for high IQ Jewish eggs.

adsfasdfasf said...

This sort of thing should be
EUGENETICS--the new delicate science--as opposed EUGENICS--the old crude technique.

It's ethically more feasbile to choose right sperms and eggs than lop off testicles or kill people.

adfadsasfasf said...

I don't get it. Women who can't have babies want the best sperm and egg, but when it comes to adoption they choose dime-a-dozen kids from Africa.

PeterW said...

Good post. But I see this in more Robin-Hansonish terms. The real motivation of these regulatory agencies is not to decrease the number of donations per se, but rather to improve their image. In things like childbirth we feel that things should be given as gifts, not tawdry market interactions.

So perhaps they can't demand that people give up their eggs gratis, but at least they seek to drive out the most emotionally distasteful trade: that of high pay for dangerous work. (Thus you see why they view "high pay" and "danger" as both bad things.) It's about emotion, not economics.

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

“At first, it was totally shocking to me that people would target specifically what they were looking for, like religion, SAT score and hair color,” said Ms Rosenberg, 22

One wonders what "religion" they were looking for? Does God make eggs Catholic or Mormon or Presbyterian?

Or maybe it wasn't really the religion that mattered when the ads cited religion.

I actually don't have a problem with that. If my wife and I had to go looking for an egg donor we would probably go looking for someone ethnically British, or at least Northwest European; but we would not refer to the person we were seeking as being a member of the Scottish Religion.

ben tillman said...

Look, people who can't make babies the old-fashioned way therefore have to select somebody else's eggs or sperm. And that means they have to be practicing eugenicists. (The only alternative is to have somebody else select for you, such as in the bad old days when doctors asked medical students to do the honors on their assumption that M.D.s were the eugenic Master Race.)

I remember going to meet a friend at the Cardozo Law School library in 1987 and seeing the ad for sperm donors on a bulletin board. It never occurred to me that they might have been looking for Jewish donors, and they never asked any questions about it. The money was good.

Dahlia said...

Ha! I read this tonight and thought of you. I perused the web and egg donation ads to see what they were like, but it would be better to have access to the college paper ads, etc.

What other attributes are popular? From most of what I saw, the couples want someone like the mother in looks and personality with high intelligence; no requests for "average".

Jewish rabbis tend to be for this, while the Catholic church is against sperm, egg, and embryo donation.

Here, the U.S. Bishops explain briefly part of the Holy See's Faith doctrine, "Dignitas Personae: On Certain Bioethical Questions”

"The child conceived in human procreation is a human person, equal in dignity with the parents. Therefore he or she deserves to be brought into being through an act of total and committed marital love between husband and wife. Technologies that assist the couple’s marital union in giving rise to a child respect this special dignity of the human person; technologies that replace it with a procedure by a technician in a laboratory do not. The moral problem is aggravated by efforts to introduce gametes (sperm or egg) from people outside the marriage, to make use of another woman’s womb to gestate the child, or to exercise “quality control” over the child as though he or she were a product. IVF as practiced today also involves a very high death rate for the embryos involved, and opens the door to further abuses such as embryo cryopreservation (freezing) and destructive experimentation."

Anonymous said...

"Sean Tipton, a spokesman for the reproductive medicine society, said that the group had little authority over egg brokers and that concerns expressed about donation smacked of sex discrimination. “It’s interesting to me that people get upset about egg donation in ways they don’t get upset about sperm donation,” he said. “You never hear discussions about, ‘Oh, the sperm donor is going to regret it some day that they have a child."

Can't say the guy doesn't raise some points.
I'm not married yet and haven't tried unsuccessfully to have children, so I try not to judge. That being said, egg and sperm donation doesn't sit well with me. I couldn't donate sperm and know there is some child of mine out there that I'm not raising. Likewise, for a woman to give up her eggs just seems cold to me.

-HeinleinFan

anony-mouse said...

Jodie Foster is obviously an exception to the rule. White actresses and singers apparently are fond of adopting black babies without having the parents undergo SATS (I'm assuming)

TGGP said...

Kerry Howley has written about the experience of being an egg donor. As you might expect from a heartless libertarian, she's not wracked with guilt over commodifying her essence or overjoyed from giving the gift of parenthood, but was happy to receive $10,000.

kudzu bob said...

The second thing we do, let's kill all the bioethicists.

Doug1 said...

You're right.

As someone not in the seller's market for eggs (though admittedly also not at all likely in the buyer's either) I have if anything a natural bias on that account in the other way, as do older women who don't have all the children they want, but hey.

The other side of this though for me is that the ability to buy eggs encourages women to delay child rearing too long for near term when younger selfish reasons, which isn't good for children. A small amount of enabling this for the most elite women (10k egg donor-recipient exchanges a year is a small number in the US), still has outsized trickle down effects in terms of delaying pregnancy. "Oh I'll just find a rich enough man to marry later that will enable me to go the egg donor route if by some "remote chance" that becomes necessary."

Richard Hoste said...

I remember how mad I used to get when they would say basketball players should stay in school instead of taking the multimillion dollar pay check right away. I didn't know anything about IQ and race at the time, but God how stupid and moralistic people are.

Every year there's a not insignificant chance of injury and sportscasters would act as if taking the risk was worth it to get a bachelor's in sociology on time.

Toadal said...

Any gal wanting to marry and raise a family who is not a practicing eugenicist is either a dope or deluded.

Caveat emptor: Probability suggests that young single females who seriously read the New York Times may become childless and frustrated spinsters.

rob said...

I don't understand. Genes don't matter. The only reason to get upset over huge payments to egg donors with those traits would be that couples buying the eggs are getting fleeced. This must be how the NYT admits that important traits involve genes.

Do sperm banks pay more for samples from in-demand donors, or a sliding scale based on donor quality?

Anonymous said...

" Critics say they fear that young women may not understand the potential physical and long-term psychological risks, including how they might feel years later about the experience."


Beelzebubba sez: I wonder if these "critics" fear that young Men may not understand the potential long-term psychological risks, including how They might feel years after the experience? Im kinda inclined to think they dont worry about it one iota.

:::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

"“At first, it was totally shocking to me that people would target specifically what they were looking for, like religion, SAT score and hair color,” said Ms Ruthie Rosenberg, 22.


Beelzebubba really thinks Ruthie Rosenberg, aged 22, is either breaking the ninth commandment here (that whole messy "not bearing false witness thingy"), or has never considered a man's perspective in wanting offspring with Bar Rafaeli's DNA rather than Elena Kagan's DNA. Of Course (!) the characteristics of the egg donor are considered.

Some sperm banks reportedly want only sperm from men who stand over 5-feet-10 inches tall. Im sure Ms. Rosenberg thinks this is perfectly reasonable.


If men could buy eggs from women to have them implanted into their wives (or the coming artifical wombs of the future that are being worked on right now in Japan), you can bet they will want the genes of hot cheerleaders with good grades over those of ordinary females.

Grumpy Old Man said...

Looks like price-fixing pure and simple. A trade association dictating the maximum price under the guise of "ethics."

Time for an anti-trust suit. And the NCAA, with their restrictions on compensation for college athlete, should be next.

MTG said...

OT.

Black Angel Movies and Obama. Lmao.

http://www.city-journal.org/2010/20_2_liberal-enthusiam.html

Captain Jack Aubrey said...

Any gal wanting to marry and raise a family who is not a practicing eugenicist is either a dope or deluded - Toadal

No, the gals who are serious practicing eugenicists are the gals who end up marrying too late to have children, if they marry at all.

The gals who marry for love marry young enough to have children, and often have many.

MTG said...

"I remember how mad I used to get when they would say basketball players should stay in school instead of taking the multimillion dollar pay check right away. I didn't know anything about IQ and race at the time, but God how stupid and moralistic people are."

Yeah, but why make them go through college at all? Why not let them go from highschool directly to pro sports?

Still, I suppose it made it easier for two white majority teams to play for NCAA basketball championship this year. The top black athletes prolly left for the NBA without staying for senior year.

Btw, it's not like basketball players are getting nothing from the college deal. They are getting full scholarship and free everything. And if they so choose, they can also gain a college degree, a smart choice considering that only a small percentage of college athletes will make it to the pros. Most college athletes won't amount to a plate of beans, and most of them are being offered an opportunity to develop some kind of job skill.
Of course, too many college athletes are dumb and got in only for their athletic prowess, but they are still given an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to LEARN SOMETHING. What percentage of college athletes make it to the pros? Less than 1%, I'll bet.
Given that 99% of football and basketball players in college don't amount to a plate of beans after college, they should be grateful for the opportunity to have fun and get an education for 4 years.

affdasdfdsafsaf said...

"Jodie Foster is obviously an exception to the rule. White actresses and singers apparently are fond of adopting black babies without having the parents undergo SATS (I'm assuming)"

Maybe or maybe not. Anyway, exotic adoptions get more media coverage than secretive egg-sperm mixing stuff.

Jim Bowery said...

The obvious final solution to the eugenics problem is to take all babies from their mothers at the moment of delivery and transport them at random to some other family in the world.

One people, one world!.

El Esperimiador Extraordinaria said...

If you've ever been to a social mixer for singles in Silicon Valley or Manhattan, you'll see all the right kind of people apply the strictest forms of eugenic filtering.

Modern feminists and elite women have eugenic requirements beyond anything the Nazi's ever came up with: specific ethnicity (Jewish or subset thereof, elite Desi or subset thereof, Chinese, Korean, Greek, Parsi, etc), elite college, high income in prestigeous career, wealthy/successful family, homeowner in elite enclave, tall, dominant alpha, athletic, handsome, good hair, witty, sharp dresser, good aesthic tastes, etc.

Many of these eugenic elites fail to find their ubermensch in time and end up raising babies of random strangers with some less-than-their-ideal man or rearing a clowder of cat alone.

Why are elites so anti-racists in artificial conception and adoption yet such uber-racists in assortive mating that most naturally leads to children? Perhaps it's an individual mental self-defense mechanism and societial meme to console and control the anger/disappointment of the vast majority of elite women who ultimately do not find (or keep) their mythical alpha man.

By these non-sensical post-mating anti-racists standards, women who want children should simply go to the most racially and economically diverse area of the world (outside a bad outer borough NYC subway station?), blindfold themselves, undress in an alley and accept a world diversity of seamen into her womb. Disverity is strength after all.

If the physical contact is too repulsive, said woman could indirectly hire a prostitute to solicit random on-the-street baby gravy in which to baste her gametes. Although this sounds like a NEA grant for some edgy performace artist, it's the last thing any elite woman would do of course.

It seems a majority of adoptions today are babies from the poor/criminal underclass or destitute foreign babies from places like African or Guatemala. Why not simply have a street wino impregnate you instead of seeking a Russian baby with alcoholic parents? At least you could avoid acoholic fetal syndrome.

Wouldn't it be better for all if a child had at least half the mother's genetics and a healthy pregnancy? Instead of adopting a indigious Guatemalan baby, jet down to Chajul just before ovulating for a series of one night stands with the locals. Imagine fighting Western white male hegenomy and the bragging rights at your next Unitarian coffee hour.

This, like so many other issues like public schools, government health care, and unqualifed diversity is simply another issue which the elites can hypocritically peddle failed or self-destructive policies they privately avoid to publically preen about their moral supremacy. Plus, it conviently undermining potential clueless fellow elites and middle class strivers.

The NYT publishes stories like genius sperm banks and expensive elite Manhattan preschools in mock shock not in condemnation. Such stories push paper by feeding off the anxiety of the status conscious elites as well as providing tips on shortcuts to get to or stay at the top.


Dr. Cecil "I don't know how my sperm impregnated 75 of my patients" Jacobson

The comely Dr. Jacobson only served 5yrs or about 25days per offspring and I don't even think he pays any child support. Crime of the century.

James Kabala said...

If we need any further evidence of the degeneration of American society, it is that 35 years aog the great majority of Americans viewed in vitro fertilization with horror and now the best conservative blog discusses it as if it were the most natural thing in the world.

In any sane society IVF would be, if not outright banned, at least heavily restricted - only open to married couples, no sperm or egg donation allowed, and perhaps most importantly, no more than 2-3 embryos created at a time (hence no Octomoms on the one hand or inevitable embryo massacres on the other).

Jodie Foster is in most ways the sort of lesbian I can feel some sympathy with. Besides her strange two-moms upbringing that Steve has chronicled before, she went through a traumatic experience (the Hinckley incident) that could turn almost anyone off the opposite sex. She is intelligent, seems to be otherwise abstemious in her personal habits, and clearly is a bit ashamed of her orientation. But she has no right to manufacture a child - it is not a cute foible as Steve treats it as being, it is a monstrous act.

concerned netizen said...

"Being Jodie Foster, Superwoman, she went, perhaps, a little over the top, looking for months before settling on a tall handsome scientist with a 160 IQ."

Sure of that? What's your source, TMZ?

(If it were the National Enquirer I'd trust it.)

I've heard scuttlebutt that Mel Gibson donated sperm for his good friend Jody. In fact, it may have been more than a turkey baster operation. This helped break up Mel's marriage.

No joke.

Anonymous said...

"Most college athletes won't amount to a plate of beans, and most of them are being offered an opportunity to develop some kind of job skill."

Err, most of them are being offered contacts with wealthy alumni to hook them up with jobs after college. Nobody learns a "job skill" in college.

David said...

>the government can allow the free market to work when it comes to reforming the American people - via cheaper labor from abroad and adoptees available mostly only from poor, non-white countries; but when it comes to egg donors all the market incentives move the other way,<

It all makes sense if you consider that the elites are anti-white, and wants whites to disappear.

David said...

>she has no right to manufacture a child<

Strong statement. Why not?

"Manufacturing a child" is what all forms of breeding are, whether it's via old-fashioned f*cking or via turkey baster (fancy or cheap).

As to "inevitable embryo massacres," 1. are they inevitable? 2. what term of abuse do you hurl at someone who breeds the old-fashioned way and endures a number of stillbirths, but still keeps trying? Murderess? 3. how many sperm - God's precious seed - have you massacred, inevitably or no?

"It's gross" or "The Bible doesn't mention it" will not be accepted.

adadfadsf said...

"Most college athletes won't amount to a plate of beans, and most of them are being offered an opportunity to develop some kind of job skill."

Err, most of them are being offered contacts with wealthy alumni to hook them up with jobs after college. Nobody learns a "job skill" in college.

-------

So tell me Duperman, what do they do in accounting class?

Anonymous said...

It looks like the babies Jodie has had from her supermale (tall dark and handsome scientist with a 160 IQ) is not as beautiful as expected ! Take a look at those two pictures of Charles Foster :

http://www.pikosky.sk/Images/Celebritne_deti/2008-04/jodie-foster-charles-kit_h01.jpg

http://static1.purepeople.com/articles/4/29/03/4/@/198647-jodie-foster-offre-un-petit-tour-de-637x0-2.jpg

http://cm1.theinsider.com/thumbnail/477/713/cm1.theinsider.com/media/0/82/87/Jodie_Foster_with_son.jpg