New Documentary on Egg Donation Industry

August 9th, 2010

Although this documentary has yet to be released, I’ve recently read some reviews and watched the trailers for “Eggsploitation: The Fertility Industry Has a Dirty Little Secret.” As you can probably guess based on the title, it is far from a flattering view of the industry. That isn’t really the issue for me, though. Having worked in this field for more than a dozen years, I know how socially, politically and emotionally charged it is. Every component gets picked apart, criticized and judged - sometimes misjudged.

It’s not the critical approach that I object to here. And I don’t for a minute want to diminish the stories told by the small group of women highlighted in this documentary. Unfortunately, they represent the risks associated with egg donation. Risks that are discussed at length when donors work with a reputable agency. In fact, that’s the primary purpose of an egg donation agency, in my mind – to make sure that all parties involved in this approach to family-building are well-educated, well informed and receive an exceptional level of support throughout the process. To be an ally to help navigate this journey. To make sure every person has the tools and resources to make the right decision for him or her.

Aside from being critical of the advanced reproductive technology (ART) industry, based on what I’ve seen so far, this documentary seems be more about diminishing a woman’s ability to make her own decisions. They take an angle popular with industry critics that doesn’t give women credit for informed consent. As if these women, so driven by the promise of paying off a credit card bill, ignore the risks communicated to them by multiple sources. Or, even more absurd, that these women provide consent for a medical procedure that involves significant physical, emotional and time commitments without fully researching and understanding the risks associated.

Ultimately it’s my responsibility as the head of ConceiveAbilities to make sure each and every client understands all risks involved in this process. We also ensure the highest ethics and standards for egg donation and surrogacy. My team does an outstanding job on this front, but I know this is a priority for every other reputable agency I’ve worked with in this industry. I’ve also found that the majority of donors come in with a solid understanding of these risks having done preliminary research for their own peace of mind. The makers of this documentary underestimate a woman’s ability to make an informed decision when compensation is involved. Perhaps the most profound example of this can be seen on the film’s promotional poster – a man’s hand covering a woman’s mouth.

Obviously this is my perspective. I’d love to hear yours.