What Oocyte Donors Aren't Told?

University of Ottawa, Canada.
The American Journal of Bioethics (Impact Factor: 5.29). 02/2001; 1(4):W3. DOI: 10.1162/152651601317139351
Source: PubMed
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    ABSTRACT: In 1999 I interviewed a 29 year old woman, Nora, in a small northern Canadian city about her thoughts, plans and expectations about getting pregnant. Although she had tried to get pregnant before and was still hoping to, she had gone back to university and had decided to put the plans to become pregnant on hold. During the conversation, I mentioned an article that had recently appeared in the New Yorker magazine (Mead 1999) reporting that women were being paid U.S. 15,000-15,000-20,000 to “donate” their eggs for fertility purposes. Nora looked at me, questioningly: “15,000-15,000-20,000?” “That was a high amount,” I replied. She nodded, “Hmm. It sounds too good to be true.“ I described the content of the article a bit more, as well as the advertisement that had inspired it. Nora reflected: But, I mean, the donor ... I mean it’s, if she wants to, it’s her responsibility to be responsible to know what’s happening to her body. But if somebody is looking for a donor, there’s nothing wrong with that. But is education provided out there? Or are resources out there for women to research them? Because, if somebody put in an ad and I saw the ad, and, you know, $20,000 ... Yeah, I’d want to do it. But I’d also want to check, have the resources to look into it. What’s going to happen to my body taking fertility [drugs]? How do I match my cycles to the other person’s cycle? And how much damage are they going to do to my body when they do surgery? And do I have to go for the surgery, or ...?
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    ABSTRACT: This paper aims to provide a description of how authors publishing in medical ethics journals have made use of empirical research data in papers on the topic of gamete or embryo donation by means of references to studies conducted by others (secondary use). Rather than making a direct contribution to the theoretical methodological literature about the role empirical research data could play or should play in ethics studies, the focus is on the particular uses of these data and the problems that can be encountered with this use. In the selection of papers examined, apart from being used to describe the context, empirical evidence was mainly used to recount problems that needed solving. Few of the authors looked critically at the quality of the studies they quoted, and several instances were found of empirical data being used poorly or inappropriately. This study provides some initial baseline evidence that shows empirical data, in the form of references to studies, are sometimes being used in inappropriate ways. This suggests that medical ethicists should be more concerned about the quality of the empirical data selected, the appropriateness of the choice for a particular type of data (from a particular type of study) and the correct integration of this evidence in sound argumentation. Given that empirical data can be misused also when merely cited instead of reported, it may be worthwhile to explore good practice requirements for this type of use of empirical data in medical ethics.
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