Egg Harvesting: the other white meat

Journal of Medical Ethics

Journal of Medical Ethics (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When it comes to pregnancy, the moral and ethical dilemmas that surround abortion of the fetus usually get the public play.  But, there is a lot more of questionable ethics going on in the field of fertility than meets the public eye.  Alongside the millions of women who are desperate to get rid of their babies are the millions of women who are desperate to have one.  Would that there would be a safe and effective way to transfer the healthy, unwanted fetuses of one group to the other.  Even leaving out the ethical problems with that, the greater problems is that every procedure offered to desperate people opens the door for some kind of exploitation.  In the end, the driving force is always money.

In her article If It’s Not Prostitution, Take the Money out of It, Rebecca Hamilton exposes the seamier economic side of the egg donor business.  She makes it quite plain that, for most everyone involve, besides the couple desperate for a baby, the driving force is greed.  What she does not get into are the myriad of other ethical concerns of egg donors and surrogates.  For her purpose, their is no need.  She merely wants to show how the ethics of doctors and egg brokers goes right out the window when the almighty dollar is at stake.

While I would accept that genetic issues are a cause of infertility, I would also posit that the entire fertility industry is geared toward fleecing the public with “acceptable” alternative fixes to the problem, rather than an honest study of the root causes of the problem, which are mostly the result of all the other genetic games being played with our food source, as well as the long-term side effects of chemicals inherent in modern packaging and in pharmaceuticals.    The increasing ingestion of estrogen is evidenced in small part by the increasing early ages of female puberty, as well as the declines in male libido and sperm counts.  Decreasing nutritional balance in our foods is creating more diagnoses of chemical imbalance that, of course, cry for a pharmaceutical fix.

Certainly one look at the increase in human longevity as a sign that pharmaceuticals and medical procedures are extending life.  But it is also possible that reductions in warfare and the tremendous advances in technology that have reduced work place stresses have had a large hand in longer lives.  Also, the fact that we have extended life spans doesn’t really mean that we have enhanced the quality of life.

Before we credit medicine too much, we must also remember that medicine has done little to stop the increasing likelihood of death from cancer, heart disease, or nervous disorders such as ALS and MS and Alzheimer’s.   People a century ago were likely to die of infections or plagues or starvation, but the incidence of modern disorders has increased even as the rate of processed and modified foods has increase.

In general, there is a tendency to equate chemicals with solutions to problems, but there is less focus on how they create problems.  Everyone wants to talk about what miracles modern medicine can do, but no one wants to talk about risks.  Seems like our modern medical community has forgotten much of its altruism in the face of profits.  Perhaps it is wise to be skeptical of anything with a large dollar sign attached.  Perhaps its time to take stock of the real benefits of expensive endeavors and to decide whether they really exceed the risks.  Perhaps it’s time to stop letting the profiteers decide on what is right and wrong.


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Filed under On Family, Health, Environment and Ethics

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