Eggs for Sale
- Wear, Delese
- Date of entry: Oct-04-2005
The italicized sentence under the title of this New Yorker essay summarizes it well: "Wanted: Highly accomplished young women willing to undergo risky, painful medical procedure for very large sums." Mead traces the phenomenon of women selling their eggs through the experience of Cindy Schiller, a 26-year-old law student who was "donating" her eggs for the third time.
In addition to Schiller's observations, the article is full of information about the clinical dimensions of egg donation--the donor shuts down her ovaries so that none of her eggs ripen and none of her follicles develop, followed by injections of follicle-stimulating hormones, followed by eggs that are "sucked out, one by one," and whisked away to be fertilized in a petri dish. Most of the article addresses the legal and ethical dimensions of egg donation, the hopes and expectations of those seeking donors, and the new-found marketing strategies of the American fertility industry.
The New Yorker
August 9,1999, pp. 56-65
In this extraordinary essay, Mead manages to pull together the motivation for egg donation from both the donor's and recipients' perspectives ("Schiller donates her eggs because she thinks that it's a worthy thing to do, and because it's a worthy thing to do . . . for which she can be paid in sums that seem handsome"), to its legal/political implications ("America is the only country with a market in eggs"), to its complex ethical dimensions for donors (long-term effects unknown), recipients (shopping for genes), and the larger culture (a marketplace mentality for gametes and genes, accessible primarily to a privileged class). The essay is wonderfully written and provides case after case of the complexities of egg donation, making it a first-rate reading for coursework in women's health, bioethics, cultural studies, or family studies.