Glaring Disparities Between Egg Donation Laws and Policies Around the Globe

September 7th, 2010

In case you missed them, there were two interesting articles in the September issue of Fast Company exploring egg donation around the world. From my perspective, these articles are most interesting because they highlight how complex the industry is and shine a light on how different the policies around assisted reproduction can be from country to country.

Even within a single country the prevailing policies can be confusing and sometimes even at odds with one another. For instance, as one of these articles points out, in Cypress, “compensation is allowed but payment is not." It also shares that “Some countries, like Israel, prohibit egg harvesting on their own territory yet still reimburse citizens for IVF, even if it's done with donor eggs, as long as they're acquired elsewhere.” A bit confusing to say the least.

The first article presents overview of egg donation and laws and regulations in different countries as it relates to egg and sperm donation. It illustrates the vast disparities between how these issues are handled throughout the world and suggests what’s behind industry trends like cross-border reproductive services, or "reproductive tourism" as it’s sometimes called. On that front, these articles cite a very interesting statistic: “According to a 2010 study by the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, nearly 25,000 egg donations are performed in Europe for fertility tourists every year. More than 50% of those surveyed traveled abroad in order to circumvent legal regulations at home.”

The second article provides a more in-depth look at the industry and raises questions about ethics in the international scene. Unethical events around the world continue to affect the entire industry. As you read about the varying degrees of standards around the world (this article illustrates one example of this with a clinic in Cyprus), you wonder how that will affect the growing number of countries, like the UK, that seem to be considering loosening restrictions around compensation for egg donation. Will questionable ethics cause them to backtrack on any progress there? Will countries with favorable infertility laws, like the US, become more lax in order to compete with international options? It's doubtful, but it's certainly a risk if clinics like the one in Cyprus gain momentum.

The bottom line is that almost nothing is black and white within the politically and emotionally charged international egg donations and infertility industry. What’s most important from my perspective, and quite simply the reason I started ConceiveAbilities, is that egg donation and surrogacy agencies are (or should be) in place to actively protect the interests of both recipient and donor. You won't find that internationally, at least not yet, a fact that clients have to consider as they embark on this often complex journey.