Debora Spar's new book, The
Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce
of Conception, has received a great deal of media
attention because of its framing of reproductive technologies
as an "industry" that includes a highly profitable market
involving the sale of eggs and sperm, surrogacy, and "designer
babies." The book was released earlier this year and highlights
the lack of government regulation and oversight in the US.
In an interview
on Salon.com, Spar said, "Governments need to play a
more active role in regulating the baby trade." Spar estimates
that the fertility industry is a $3 billion per year business, with
$38 million of that spent on donor eggs. She asks provocative questions
about the decisions society has to grapple with: "Should we,
as a society, prohibit women from selling their eggs, their wombs,
their embryos, or their children? Should we allow parents to select
traits of their children? And who, in a world of fluid boundaries
and invisible trade, gets to decide?"
Today featured a front-page story on the recruitment of
college-age women to sell their eggs for fertility treatments. According
to the article, campus newspapers feature advertisements to entice
"cash-strapped college women with top test scores and picture-perfect
looks." The article recognizes that college students will be
faced with increased recruitment as the demand for eggs extends
beyond fertility treatments to embryonic stem-cell research requiring
fresh eggs from women.
article cites concerns voiced by CGS's Jesse Reynolds, who points
out that the procurement of women's eggs is "all in private
hands" and that if payments for eggs rise, more students and
other financially strapped women will be tempted by a procedure
they'd otherwise reject.