Fertility Watchdog to Review Ban on Selling Human Eggs

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen Widdup

A BAN on the sale of sperm and eggs is to be reconsidered.

The head of the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority, the Government's fertility watchdog, said today she would reassess strict rules enforced in 2006 which prevent would-be parents offering money for donors.

Professor Lisa Jardine said the national shortage of donors in the UK was forcing childless British couples to travel abroad for fertility treatment.

"Given the evidence that egg shortage is driving women overseas, I feel a responsibility to look at it again," she said.

Her move has raised concerns about a market in human tissue and exploitation of women as egg donation is invasive and involves an element of risk.

Some critics have also pointed out that introducing a "free market" could see highly educated, young professional women able to charge higher rates for eggs because of the quality of their genes. Others claim offering money could exclude some couples wanting children because it becomes too costly on top of IVF cycles.

Laura Witchens, chairman of the National Gamete Donation Trust, said any plans in line with American "eggs to the highest bidder" model would have to be carefully scrutinised.

"In the US a Harvard graduate with blonde hair, long legs, straight teeth and blue eyes can get more money than a short, stocky girl in glasses who works in Walmart," she said. "It is a problem because you are reducing human life to a commodity like buying a dress or a new pair of shoes. …