A new study out of Georgia Tech concludes that egg donors from highly selective schools with impressive SAT scores earn more for their eggs.
As a reporter who used to cover family issues including infertility and adoption, that seems obvious to me. Couples are often quite specific in what they want from egg donors, from good looks to good genes to good grades. Couples with musical backgrounds often seek out donors who play piano or sing. I found that many couples wanted the same three things in their donors: youth to ensure viable eggs, strong academics and good health.
While still controversial, soliciting and compensating college students for egg donation is common in the U.S. (It is not allowed in some other countries.) And it’s a route usually pursued by upper income couples since many of the costs fall outside medical insurance.
According to the AJC story:
Eggs harvested from students attending universities with higher SAT scores are worth more money, according to new research from Georgia Tech.
A review of advertisements in campus newspapers across the country found that offers for a student’s eggs increased by $2,350 for each 100-point increase in the average SAT score of the incoming class at that school.
The research suggests that people who want to have children by in vitro fertilization are willing to pay more for “smart genes,” said Aaron Levine, the assistant professor of public policy who did the study.
Some say women and couples should be free to enter into transactions with informed consent. Others say the sale of eggs can lead to the “commodification” of women’s bodies and that paying more for desired characteristics, such as intelligence or hair and eye color, raises the specter of eugenics
Levine found an ad from the campus newspaper at Brown University offering $50,000. He found ads offering $35,000 at Harvard, Princeton and Yale.
Here in Georgia, the highest offer he saw was $20,000, at Emory. An offer of $6,000 at Kennesaw State University came closer to the $5,000 median for all institutions sampled, he said. (The ads were collected in 2006.)
John A. Robertson, who chaired the ethics committee of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, questioned whether there should be any limits on compensation. There is no evidence that payments in excess of $10,000 lead women to overlook the risks of donating, he wrote. More money might encourage more women to donate, he added, but that does not mean they are being exploited. And, he asked, what’s wrong with paying a woman more if she is healthier and has a particular ethnic background or high intelligence?
“After all,” he wrote, “we allow individuals to choose their mates and sperm donors on the basis of such characteristics. Why not choose egg donors similarly?”