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The Baby Business

New Book Focuses on Market for Babies
Genetic Crossroads
March 29th, 2006

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?"

Commerce on Campus

USA 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.

The 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.


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