Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm

Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm

Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm

Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm

Synopsis

Unimaginable until the twentieth century, the clinical practice of transferring eggs and sperm from body to body is now the basis of a bustling market. In Sex Cells, Rene Almeling provides an inside look at how egg agencies and sperm banks do business. Although both men and women are usually drawn to donation for financial reasons, Almeling finds that clinics encourage sperm donors to think of the payments as remuneration for an easy "job." Women receive more money but are urged to regard egg donation in feminine terms, as the ultimate "gift" from one woman to another. Sex Cells shows how the gendered framing of paid donation, as either a job or a gift, not only influences the structure of the market, but also profoundly affects the individuals whose genetic material is being purchased.

Excerpt

Rushing from class at the university to her job downtown, Megan tuned in to the radio and half listened to an advertisement calling on young women to give the gift of life. Her ears perked up on hearing that financial compensation would be offered to those who are caring, healthy, and willing to help infertile couples have a child. Thinking about the tuition bill that was coming due next semester, she decided to call for more information. The men at Megan’s school hear a different kind of pitch. Flipping through the pages of the college newspaper, they might come across a cartoon drawing of sperm floating above a call for a few good men, those who are healthy, in their twenties or thirties, and in pursuit or possession of a university degree. The copy suggests that they put their sperm to work and “get paid for what you’re already doing.” These ads are for egg donors and sperm donors, women and men who . . .

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