An article on the front page of the New Zealand Herald this week reports that more and more women desperate to have babies in New Zealand are going overseas to find egg donors. For example, in the past year about 30 couples have travelled to the San Diego Fertility Centre in the United States for egg donation.
It seems that the main reason overseas ‘egg markets’ are more lucrative is because women are allowed to be paid for their eggs, while in New Zealand this is currently not allowed. Another issue is that New Zealand women who don’t yet have their own families are discouraged from donating eggs because the process may compromise their own fertility. However, older women’s eggs are less likely to result in successful pregnancy.
"Lots of young women are putting themselves through university by donating eggs," says Birdsall [Medical director of Fertility Associates in Auckland]. "The donor websites feel a little like a Miss America pageant."
To me it seems wrong that women should sell a very precious part of their bodies, marketing their physical and intellectual features to do so. I hope that New Zealand doesn’t go down that path. It is essentially selling your own child is it not? Another issue is the intentional compromise of their own fertility for money. The New Zealand Herald further reports:
Birdsell said there were downsides, including cost – around $53,000 – and children resulting from overseas egg donors were not guaranteed the chance to meet their biological mother. Here, under the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act, donor information had to be provided to Births, Deaths and Marriages.
Fertility counsellor Joi Ellis said it was important to consider how the child might feel about that lack of connection. Parents also needed to consider what it would be like to raise a child when they didn't know their full genetic history. "It's a significant loss for a woman to give up the idea that those children will have arisen from the use of her eggs. There is usually considerable grief attached to that."
Does this mean we will see more and more children in New Zealand who will have no chance of meeting or knowing their real mother? Or will flights over to the States be organised every now and then by some perhaps?
It seems such a shame that New Zealand has one of the highest abortion rates in the world – yet at the same time so many people are desperate for babies. And if the number of people willing to accept egg donors is anything to go by, there are lots of people who would like to raise what are essentially other people’s babies. Thinking about it, you have essentially allowed your husband to have a child with another woman on the other side of the world - albeit disconnected from physical sex. It all seems a little unnatural.