Skip to content

Pressuring Women to Freeze or Donate Their Ova

Fears of Exploitation by Biotechnology Mount

LONDON, SEPT. 17, 2006 (Zenit) - Women are under increasing pressure to freeze their ova or to donate them for research purposes. Recently a director of a fertility service in West Midlands, England, recommended that women freeze their eggs early so as to avoid problems when trying for a pregnancy in later years.

Gillian Lockwood's comments came just prior to a speech she was due to make at a meeting of the British Fertility Society in Glasgow, the Scotsman newspaper reported Sept. 7.

"Women in their 30s who may want children in the future should be encouraged to consider freezing their eggs for future use," Lockwood said. While many women who currently freeze their ova do so for reasons related to medical problems such as cancer, Lockwood said she expected the number of "social egg-freezers" to increase.

Women are also being asked to donate their ova for research. An English fertility center in the city of Newcastle was given permission by the government to pay women undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment to donate eggs for research using cloning, the BBC reported July 27.

The authorization, by the British Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, is important because it marked the first time that payment can be given for IVF eggs used in research. Previously researchers were only allowed to ask women to donate the ova. The go-ahead will enable researchers to offer couples who need IVF, but cannot afford it, the possibility of having some of their costs offset in return for donating eggs for research.

The decision brought protests from Josephine Quintavalle, a co-founder of the Hands Off Our Ovaries group. "The primary concern should be what is in the woman's best interests," she contended. "That is to have the most minimally invasive treatment with the minimum use of drugs and the minimum harvesting of eggs."

Coalition forces

On its Web site the Hands Off Our Ovaries organization describes itself as being a "coalition of 'pro-choice' and 'pro-life' women, concerned at the growing exploitation of women in biotechnology." Last March 8 the group launched a campaign against the harvesting and marketing of human eggs.

In a press release dated May 11, the group explained it is concerned that the processes used to extract ova "pose serious short-term health risks for women." Apart from short-term problems such as overstimulation of the ovaries, the statement argued that knowledge of the long-term risks is inadequate.

Among the documentation on the Hands Off Our Ovaries Web site is a letter dated February 2005, written by Dr. Suzanne Parisian, a former chief medical officer of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The physician noted that many of the drugs used in procedures to extract ova "have not been adequately studied for long-term safety, nor do some of these drugs have FDA approval for these specific indications."

Moreover, pharmaceutical firms have not been required by either the government or physicians to collect safety data for IVF drugs regarding risk of cancer or other serious health conditions, Parisian warned.

These concerns were echoed in an opinion article published by Katrina George in the newspaper Australian on Aug. 17. George is an Australian member of the Hands Off Our Ovaries group. A debate is now under way in Australia regarding stem cell research in the light of possible changes to federal legislation.

George commented that there is a lot of hype about possible benefits of embryonic stem cells, but silence about the interests of women. Cloning embryos to obtain stem cells, she explained, requires a large supply of ova, not always without risks. Just the week before, the press reported on a woman undergoing IVF treatment in Britain who died after her eggs were obtained.

Guinea pigs

"Cloning always amounts to the commodification of women's bodies," objected George. Concerns exist, moreover, that women will be pressured into giving consent for the donation of their eggs. And monetary incentives might induce poor women to undergo treatment, without considering sufficiently the health risks. "Politicians and scientists must not use women as guinea pigs in a technology that has no proven benefits," she concluded.

Such concerns received support in a study published Aug. 9 by Nature magazine. The article, entitled "Health Effects of Egg Donation May Take Decades to Emerge," explained that specialists in reproductive medicine consider that there is insufficient information about the long-term risks of drugs used to stimulate ovulation.

In fact, some studies suggest the drugs may be linked to the development of certain cancers. One of these, carried out by Louise Brinton at the U.S. National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland, collected the medical records of more than 12,000 women who received ovulation-stimulating drugs between 1965 and 1988. Among the results was the finding that the women were around 1.8 times more likely to develop uterine cancer.

Worries also have surfaced in Spain, following a publicity campaign by a clinic in Barcelona to attract egg donors. According to an Aug. 2 report in the daily ABC, the clinic needs ova to carry out fertility treatments.

In addition to Spanish and Catalan the advertisements were published in Russian and Polish. This led members of the European Parliament to suspect the clinic was targeting poor women immigrants. Women from Russia and Poland are sought for egg donations, as many of those undergoing IVF treatment express preferences for blue-eyed blond children.

Although payments for egg donation are not allowed under Spanish law, that clinic offered between €500 and €900 ($633 to $1,140) to pay for the "discomforts" suffered during the process of egg donation. In the wake of the ads the European Commission asked local authorities to investigate the question of monetary payments.

Baby trade

Further problems were highlighted in a lengthy article published in the English Daily Mail newspaper on July 18. The paper denounced the flourishing trade in human eggs from Eastern Europe.

Many British women, among them 62-year-old Patti Farrant who gave birth earlier in July, use eggs coming from women in Eastern Europe. The donors, tempted by payments of between 150 to 300 pounds ($281 to $562) that are equivalent to several months' salary, run the risk of damaging their own hopes for a baby. The article cited cases of women from countries such as Romania, whose ovaries are so damaged as a result of ova donation that they are now infertile.

Women from countries such as the United States are also at risk, the Boston Globe explained June 25. Young women burdened with debts or college loans are tempted by payments that can range from $5,000 to $15,000 to donate their eggs.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention there were 14,323 embryo implantations using donated eggs in 2003 in the United States. There is little control, however, over either the business practices of ova donation or the health risks.

"Science without conscience can only lead to man's ruin," warned the "Instruction on Respect for Human Life in its Origin and on the Dignity of Procreation" ("Donum Vitae"), issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1987.

The prophetic document, published under the direction of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, noted that the Church sought to defend "man against the excesses of his own power," thus enabling people of the future to live with "dignity and liberty." A future more than ever at risk.


Catholic Online CA, US
Catholic Online - Publisher, 661 869-1000



Woman, Ova, Abortion, Birth, Life, Bioethics

More Catholic PRWire

Showing 1 - 50 of 4,718

A Recession Antidote
Randy Hain

Monaco & The Vatican: Monaco's Grace Kelly Exhibit to Rome--A Review of Monegasque-Holy See Diplomatic History
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

The Why of Jesus' Death: A Pauline Perspective
Jerom Paul

A Royal Betrayal: Catholic Monaco Liberalizes Abortion
Dna. Maria St.Catherine De Grace Sharpe, t.o.s.m., T.O.SS.T.

Embrace every moment as sacred time
Mary Regina Morrell

My Dad
JoMarie Grinkiewicz

Letting go is simple wisdom with divine potential
Mary Regina Morrell

Father Lombardi's Address on Catholic Media
Catholic Online

Pope's Words to Pontifical Latin American College
Catholic Online

Prelate: Genetics Needs a Conscience
Catholic Online

State Aid for Catholic Schools: Help or Hindrance?
Catholic Online

Scorsese Planning Movie on Japanese Martyrs
Catholic Online

2 Nuns Kidnapped in Kenya Set Free
Catholic Online

Holy See-Israel Negotiation Moves Forward
Catholic Online

Franchising to Evangelize
Catholic Online

Catholics Decry Anti-Christianity in Israel
Catholic Online

Pope and Gordon Brown Meet About Development Aid
Catholic Online

Pontiff Backs Latin America's Continental Mission
Catholic Online

Cardinal Warns Against Anti-Catholic Education
Catholic Online

Full Circle
Robert Gieb

Three words to a deeper faith
Paul Sposite

Relections for Lent 2009
chris anthony

Wisdom lies beyond the surface of life
Mary Regina Morrell

World Food Program Director on Lent
Catholic Online

Moral Clarity

Pope's Lenten Message for 2009
Catholic Online

A Prayer for Monaco: Remembering the Faith Legacy of Prince Rainier III & Princess Grace and Contemplating the Moral Challenges of Prince Albert II
Dna. Maria St. Catherine Sharpe

Keeping a Lid on Permissiveness
Sally Connolly

Glimpse of Me
Sarah Reinhard

The 3 stages of life
Michele Szekely

Sex and the Married Woman
Cheryl Dickow

A Catholic Woman Returns to the Church
Cheryl Dickow

Modernity & Morality
Dan Shea

Just a Minute
Sarah Reinhard

Catholic identity ... triumphant reemergence!
Hugh McNichol

Edging God Out
Paul Sposite

Burying a St. Joseph Statue
Cheryl Dickow

George Bush Speaks on Papal Visit
Catholic Online

Sometimes moving forward means moving the canoe
Mary Regina Morrell

Action Changes Things: Teaching our Kids about Community Service
Lisa Hendey

Easter... A Way of Life
Paul Spoisite

Papal initiative...peace and harmony!
Hugh McNichol

Proclaim the mysteries of the Resurrection!
Hugh McNichol

Jerusalem Patriarch's Easter Message
Catholic Online

Good Friday Sermon of Father Cantalamessa
Catholic Online

Papal Address at the End of the Way of the Cross
Catholic Online

Cardinal Zen's Meditations for Via Crucis
Catholic Online

Interview With Vatican Aide on Jewish-Catholic Relations
Catholic Online

Pope Benedict XVI On the Easter Triduum
Catholic Online

Holy Saturday...anticipation!
Hugh McNichol

Never Miss any Updates!

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers.

Learn about Catholic world

Catholic Online
Inform - Inspire - Ignite

Catholic Online Saints
Your saints explained

Catholic Online Prayers
Prayers for every need

Catholic Online Bible
Complete bible online

Catholic Online News
Your news Catholic eye

Daily Reading
Today's bible reading

Lent / Easter
Death & resurrection of Jesus

Advent / Christmas
Birth of Jesus

Rest of Catholic Online
All Catholic world we offer

Products and services we offer

Catholic Online Shopping
Catholic medals, gifts & books

The California Network
Inspiring streaming service

Advertise on Catholic Online
Your ads on

Catholic Online Email
Email with Catholic feel

Catholic Online Singles
Safe, secure Catholic dating

The California Studios
World-class post production service

Learn the Catholic way

Catholic Online School
Free Catholic education for all

Student Classes
K-12 & Adult Education Classes

School Teachers
Teacher lesson plans & resources

Support Free Education
Tax deductible support Free education

Connect with us online

Catholic Online on Facebook
Catholic social network

Catholic Online on Twitter
Catholic Tweets

Catholic Online on YouTube
Enjoy our videos

Catholic Online on Instagram
Shared Catholic moments

Catholic Online on Pinterest
Catholic ideas style inspiration

Catholic Online Logo

Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. All materials contained on this site, whether written, audible or visual are the exclusive property of Catholic Online and are protected under U.S. and International copyright laws, © Copyright 2018 Catholic Online. Any unauthorized use, without prior written consent of Catholic Online is strictly forbidden and prohibited.