A range of side effects has been reported in donors undergoing all of the above. Donation also makes demands on a donor's time, energy, and emotions. (Burfoot, 1999, p. 269)
For women who are receiving IVF, with their own Ova these side effects and ensuing risks are likely to be palatable, as the lasting effect if all goes well is a full term healthy child. For Ova donors the incentive of a pure, altruistic act might not be enough to allow her to make a discernible decision of sacrifice vs. reward, and this would likely be particularly true in the case of young women, who are less likely to have experience with infertility and who relatively recently experienced the hormonal turmoil of puberty, which is comparatively minor, as noted by some, to the artificial hormonal syncing and stimulating that occurs prior to Ovum retrieval. Ehrensaft stresses throughout her work that the process of donorship is an exceedingly emotional process which can seriously effect the lives of those who chose to donate, the procedures are invasive and time consuming and the medical aspects of artificial hormone therapy create havoc in the mind and body of the individual donor. (2005, pp. 90-97)
While some argue that compensating Ovum donors beyond a cost incurred basis, without cap could potentially result in recipient family deception where a donor might unethically and possibly illegally embezzle significant funds from the recipient couple. This rare but controversial occurrence has been sensationalized in some surrogate deception situations as well as in adoption scandals, which have occurred over the years. (O'Hanlon, 1997, p. 8) Another, scandalous concern associated with embryo and ovum donation has also occurred with regard to unscrupulous physicians misappropriating genome materials, which again has occurred in a limited fashion over the years, partly in response to limitations of legitimate opportunities for embryo retrieval for scientific research or reproductive use and partly as a result of simple greed, as in the case of surrogate or donor scandals. (Bender, 2003, p. 1)
To counter these ethical concerns one must understand that their occurrence is exceedingly rare, but fear is generally associated with these practices, as individuals seeking such care are in an very precarious and some would say desperate emotional state, thinking only of successful pregnancy and the development of a family. (Ehrensaft, 2005, pp. 95, 246) it is also possible that these unscrupulous events occurred as a result of limited supervision, which often occurs with regard to early medical bioethical technology use. Hamberger suggests that this could be countered by legislation developing a cap on non-expense related compensation to donors. (February 2007, p. 53) Another issue of bioethical concern is the development of a system where anonymity and/or non-anonymity is legislated in the case of genome donation. Hamberger makes clear that this issue is not easily answered as removing anonymity from the picture seriously reduces the likely hood of donor participation and conversely demanding anonymity may eliminate the possibility of close relative or friend donation, which for many couples is a viable and reasonable option. Hamberger's suggestion, to resolve this conflict is to develop a legislative model that mirrors that of Finland or Iceland, where donor anonymity or non-anonymity is left for all parties involved to decide, therefore reducing the limitation effect of non-anonymity and the recipient fear of being unable to explain to a child beget of this process their genetic and gestational history. (February 2007, p. 53) These sentiments are mirrored by Ehrensaft when she demonstrates the fact that making such choices, on the part of the donor and the recipient is an exceedingly personal process and that as such it should be treated with individuation in decisions regarding awareness or lack there of. (2005, p. 105) Ehrensaft's work, considered a seminal work on the development of the psychological and social aspects of new reproductive technologies stresses that individuation of all decisions in the process must be ensured, as well as the increased awareness of donation options to be stressed to the public. (2005)
One final thought on the ethic of care associated with embryo and ovum donation is regarding faith, as faith often dictates very personal decisions individuals make and the ethical considerations of advanced reproductive technology verge on life giving issues that often touch a cord with people of some strong religious faiths. For many the concept of creating "surplus" embryos goes beyond their ability to imagine, as such embryos are likely never to be given the change to develop into the children, some believe they should be. (Burfoot, 1999, p. 42) the frequent side effect of the development of reproductive technology in this area is to cull many more ovum than is needed, and sometimes fertilize them, creating an embryo so as to avoid repeating the process of donor or recipient preparation and retrieval, so if IVF or GIFT do not result in a viable pregnancy on first attempt latter attempts can be made without repeating a difficult process. Thus, surplus ova and embryos are created, making it possible for such surplus gametes to be utilized for research or with other infertile couples. The engrossing controversy over faith and embryo or ovum utilizing reproductive technology is in line with the abortion controversy, as many people through faith and belief are sure that conception is the beginning of life, and that knowingly creating such life, only to have it squelched by lack of need or research is unconscionable. As this is an issue of faith there is no real way to counter the ethical dilemma, except to say that if conception is the start of life ovum and especially embryonic donation should not only be stressed they should be increased to cultivate fewer, surplus lives.
In this work, there has been the provision of a brief explanation of the current development of reproductive technologies, as they apply to the utilization of embryo and ovum for the purpose of pregnancy. Many ethical and individual dilemmas are raised and countered and the conclusion is that there needs to be much greater awareness of this viable reproductive option, especially considering the aging of the population, with regard to the starting of a family. Women and men must be given information, incentive and options with regard to the donation of embryos and ovum for the purpose of creating healthy children for previously childless couples. As technology in reproductive care continues to advance and procedures and techniques for IVF and GIFT continue to evolve, the opportunity will likely grow and the public must be made aware of the option of this sort of life giving donation practice.
Bender, L. (2003). Genes, Parents, and Assisted Reproductive Technologies: Arts, Mistakes, Sex, Race, & Law. Columbia Journal of Gender and Law, 12(1), 1.
Burfoot, a. (Ed.). (1999). Encyclopedia of Reproductive Technologies. Boulder, CO: Westview Press.
Embryo Adoption on Increase; Donors Help Other Infertile Couples Build Families. (2006, November 29). The Washington Times, p. A03.
Ehrensaft, D. (2005) Mommies, daddies, donors, surrogates: answering tough questions and building strong families. New York: Guilford Press.
Hamberger, L. (February, 2007) Anonymous and non-anonymous gamete and embryo donations: pros and cons. Ethics, Law and Moral Philosophy of reproductive Biomedicine, 2(1) 50-53.
Henderson, S. (2006, November). Late-in-Life Pregnancy: More Women Are Waiting Longer to Have Their First Child. Ebony, 62, 102.
MacCallum, F., Golombok, S., & Brinsden, P. (2007, June). Parenting and child development in families with a child conceived through embryo donation. Journal of Family Psychology, 21(2), 278-287. Retrieved February 11, 2008, from PsycARTICLES database. http://moe.ic.highline.edu:2048/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip&db=pdh&an=fam-21-2-278&site=ehost-live&scope=site
O'Hanlon, T. (1997, February 9). Scandal of the Baby Trade; News Investigation the SURROGATE MOTHER Business BEGAN as a GENUINE ATTEMPT to HELP WOMEN WHO COULDN'T HAVE CHILDREN.SO WHERE DID it ALL GO WRONG?; 48-Year-old Gran Paid a Hooker Pounds 20, 000 to Have Child.Now She Wants No2. Sunday Mirror (London, England), p. 8.
Sloan, G.A. (1993). Postponing Parenthood: The Effect of Age on Reproductive Potential. New York: Insight Books.
Vastag, B. (2007, May 19). Embryos, please. Science News, 171(20), 317-318. Retrieved February 11, 2008, from Academic…