Dear Ms Jardine,
We are a network of independent feminists. We were extremely concerned about remarks you made in an interview with The Times earlier this year concerning the possibility of the HFEA allowing financial incentives for women to donate eggs. We have already received many letters from women who are very unhappy about your proposals.
Our main concern is that this will induce women who are in financial need to take significant risks with their health. This has been the experience in countries like the USA and Spain, and, notoriously in Eastern Europe, where there have been many cases of women being hospitalised as a result of the hormone treatments involved in egg donation. It is not acceptable to create a situation in which poorer women are disproportionately induced to take such risks, as many HFEA documents have stated in the past. At the same time the increased cost of egg donation would make it more
difficult for less well off women to benefit from egg donation.
The main risk of these treatments is Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS). We do not believe that the HFEA has an adequate system for recording the incidence of OHSS, since it only records treatment cycles that are aborted as a result of OHSS. A significant finding of Professor Balen’s report is that there may have been as many as four deaths from OHSS in 2003 – 5, which have not been publicly reported. It is not right to offer women financial inducements to take these serious risks. We are also concerned about the lack of evidence concerning longer term health risks of hormonal treatments.
We would also argue that the EU Tissues and Cells Directive is clearly intended to ensure than no financial incentives for donations exist. It is not legitimate to exploit the openness of the word ‘inconveniences’ in the Directive to provide
incentives which are clearly against the spirit of an agreement made between all 27 EU states.
We reject the argument that financial incentives would serve to boost egg donation in Britain, thereby reducing the problem of ‘fertility tourism’. Britain has always strongly opposed any payment for human tissues, and it does not make sense to import an ethical problem from abroad. In any case, Eastern Europe will probably always be able to offer cheap eggs than Britain, so your proposed measure would have little effect on those who are motivated mainly by price.
We hope you will reconsider the idea of allowing payments for egg donation when the HFEA discusses the issue on December 9th. We look forward to hearing your response to the points in this letter.
On behalf of the No2Eggsploitation campaign