More and more women desperate to have babies are heading overseas to find egg donors as frustration grows at restrictive medical laws and practices in New Zealand.
In the past year about 30 couples have travelled to the San Diego Fertility Centre in the United States for egg donation, and more than 70 per cent of the women are now pregnant – almost double the success rate at home. Others have travelled to countries such as Spain and Argentina.
The women and their doctors say "fertility tourism" is the only choice for some couples, because potential New Zealand donors are not encouraged to offer their eggs.
It's not the only choice. A more moral choice would be acceptance of the fact they cannot have children. That trying to beat nature is morally wrong. Not only for the children created, but for the donors as well.
"It is a bigger deal than donating sperm," said Mary Birdsall, medical director of Fertility Associates in Auckland. "We don't want to take eggs until women are older and have completed their own families, just in case."
Risks of egg donation include ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, bleeding or, more rarely, infection at the time of egg collection, which can result in infertility – a reason younger women are cautious about donating.
In the US however, women in their early 20s can earn up to US$10,000 for their eggs. "Lots of young women are putting themselves through university by donating eggs," Birdsall said. "The donor websites feel a little like a Miss America pageant."
Ten thousand dollars for a young woman would be a huge temptation. I wouldn't call getting money for your eggs, "earning". More like giving up something that should be not be sold.
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."
Um, yeah. But this isn't about the children, it's about the adults.
Related link: 'Mums' fly for baby help ~ Stuff