The Scramble to Promote Egg Donation Through a More Protective Regulatory Regime

By: Jacob Radecki, IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law


Egg “donation” is a burgeoning industry in the United States. Fertility clinics capitalize on financially needy college students by advertising substantial financial benefits; particularly gifted women may receive thousands of dollars for selling their eggs. Rosy advertisements portray a well-paying procedure that also helps bring a child to a loving parent. Yet these descriptions mask significant potential harms. With respect to known problems, hormone regimens may cause ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, which in the most severe cases can lead to infertility. In terms of unknown risks, anecdotal evidence suggests that the long-term side effects of egg extraction may include cancer. The fundamental issue with egg donation lies in a patchwork regulatory system. Federally, there are no regulations, and while some states limit compensation, others only require that clinics distribute certain information. Some propose that the United States follow other countries by banning or limiting compensation. Instead, the United States should enact a comprehensive regulatory regime to protect donors while respecting their bodily autonomy. First, states should adopt informed consent requirements for clinics and risk disclosure requirements for advertisements. Second, clinics performing extractions should be required to pay for health care in the event of negative effects. Finally, a federal reporting requirement should be created to document the long-term health effects of egg donation.

Cite as: Jacob Radecki, The Scramble to Promote Egg Donation Through a More Protective Regulatory Regime, 90 Chi.-Kent. L. Rev. 729 (2015).