Yesterday, I launched the first in a series of posts under the overall title Brave New World. My initial post addressed the current practice of egg donation. I noted that the various aspects of our Brave New World are numerous enough to require subsequent posts, but I’ve decided these won’t necessarily be consecutive posts. There’s simply too much to cover.
Just discussing the subject of egg donations (but perhaps extending to the entire reproductive landscape), similarities to the Wild West (in my view) would not be hyperbole. Frontiers are being crossed where no rules seem applicable and the lives and health of women represent an insignificant price in technology’s march across previously sacred natural barriers.
Speaking of a related aspect (surrogacy) that lies within the reproductive framework, one writer said: “… we haven’t decided as a society how we are going to deal with this…” I think her observation goes beyond just the question of surrogacy and applies overall! We haven’t decided as a society? I recall an old saw: not to decide is to decide.
Indeed, by refusing to “decide,” the Wild West is where we’ve landed as a society. Figuratively speaking, I can’t help wondering how many native tribes will be recklessly slaughtered while we’re figuring out the operational framework. What will be the cost? The long-term effects of our foot-dragging? The further deterioration of our humanity?
This is a discussion we (as a culture) should be having, and if you Google the term “egg donations,” 5.6 million hits will come up offering resources and pockets of discussion. But if, like me, your demographic doesn’t match the under-30 set, you may be unaware of the full-court press exerted on young people still forming opinions about reproductive issues, and they’re forming their conclusions on the fly.
Before I continue, though, I want to lay some ground-rules and a prefatory foundation … because I’m not an expert here. I’m not. I’m an observer of our culture, and the things I observe have become increasingly disturbing.
Briefly, I approach this issue (and all others) through the lens of my Christian faith. This means I believe every human being carries the distinct image of our Creator imprinted on and into his or her soul. In that regard, I believe every human life is precious.
Secondly, I use the Bible as my guidebook. However, because the Bible doesn’t speak specifically to every minute issue in life (i.e. should I drink Pepsi or Coke or neither?), I apply principles from the Bible for my decision-making. Within a general biblical Christian framework, there is freedom.
Third (and last, at least for the discussion at hand), I believe God gave me a brain to figure out ways in which to be life-affirming (my first point), to weigh scripture in my life while acknowledging not everyone considers the Bible the “Good Book” (my second point), and the ability to respectfully engage in rational discussion on important topics with people who may disagree with my worldview laid out here.
Keeping those qualifiers in mind, I’ll press forward. If you’re still with me, thanks for hanging in there!
At its most basic, egg donation is one of a wide array of reproductive interventions. (Using the word interventions seems slightly ominous, doesn’t it? Maybe because reproductive interventions are, in fact, ominous?)
As with many developments brought forward from the 60s feminist movement, people tend to look at egg donation only as another spoke in the egalitarian wheel. For proponents of egalitarianism, the most natural argument might go something like this: If men are allowed to donate sperm, then why not allow women to donate their eggs? (In short, the sauce-for-the-goose argument.) And I suppose, that’s a fair question … but perhaps a shortsighted one?
Writer Debra J. Saunders discusses “fair compensation” for both male and female donors and notes in her article Women at Risk When Donating Their Eggs: “That sperm-egg parity argument is so bogus.” She says the “risks” for donors aren’t comparable.
While sperm donors may experience second thoughts, there are no serious medical side effects. In fact, according to the Mayo Clinic website, “… there are no health risks associated with sperm donation.” No health risks. None.
The same cannot be said for egg donation. Powerful drugs are utilized. The primary drug used is Lupron. One website that I consulted (shown to the right) discusses their Lupron protocol and candidly admits: as part of the egg-harvesting process, “… Lupron is not FDA approved for this use (it is an “off label” use).”
That second last sentence is telling. I’ve enlarged the applicable paragraph for you to view for yourself here:
So, we have a powerful drug, one being used for an “off-label” (non-conforming) application and it’s also a drug which has some demonstrable side effects! Truth is, we don’t yet know the full extent to which women may suffer health issues following the administration of this drug for the purposes of egg donation.
Does this seem at all egalitarian?
I’ve scraped the surface here, discussed just a snatch of available information to shed light on one aspect of the reproductive intervention on the Wild West landscape. There’s so much more … and I will continue to pursue in subsequent posts.
Your discussion and input are welcome and always encouraged.