A leading figure in the Church of Scotland has today voiced his concern about the practice of auctioning and selling human eggs for IVF treatment.
The Rev Ian Galloway, convener of the Kirk’s Church and Society Council, spoke out following the recent 'raffle' of a fertility treatment cycle in London, in conjunction with a US-based clinic in Virginia.
Mr Galloway said the practice now exists in Scotland, where patients can undergo initial stages in a Glasgow clinic and then proceed with the rest of the treatment in Spain.
The sale of human eggs is not allowed in the UK, where donors are only compensated for “reasonable” expenses and loss of earnings up to a maximum of £250.
But a problem has arisen because there is a long waiting list for donated human eggs and a market has now developed. In Spain, egg donors are paid and also remain anonymous.
Writing on his weblog, Mr Galloway declared: “The sale of human eggs favours the commoditisation of human parts – human eggs should not be in a shopping basket on the same level as a grocery item."
He continued: “Just as it is wrong to buy and sell human beings it is wrong to buy and sell human eggs."
But the Kirk convener added: "It is a tribute to the creativity of scientists, biologists and medical doctors that some solutions to infertility are now available."
He went on: “Infertility is a complex emotional problem and the pain and tribulation of individuals and couples facing it should be weighed on the balance against the ramifications of the sale of human eggs for our society."
“The Church of Scotland has a clear policy against the sale of human eggs because it considers the practice exploitative of the poor, who may feel compelled to become donors for a fee, undergoing invasive, potentially dangerous and often painful procedures," Mr Galloway wrote.
The Kirk’s Church and Society Council convener also highlighted the case of donors in Eastern Europe and India who have sold their eggs, sometimes to the detriment of their own health.
The estimated revenue for the assisted reproductive technology industry in the USA alone was calculated at $2 billion. Donors only receive a small amount of this.
Mr Galloway concluded: “It is very telling that such level of profits are extracted from human misery.”