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Egg prices at top universities

Jenna Johnson

Rack up some debt over spring break that you need to pay off? For women attending top universities with high SAT scores, an egg donation could earn you as much as $50,000. But is such payment ethical?

Egg prices and recruitment techniques are not strictly regulated in the United States, unlike in other countries. Instead, the industry relies heavily on self-regulation. The American Society of Reproductive Medicine suggests in an ethics committee report that payments over $5,000 require justification -- and any payments over 10 grand are "not appropriate." Compensation should be based on the time, inconvenience and discomfort that comes along with a donation -- and not a donor's ethnic or personal characteristics.

To see if the fertility industry was following this ethic standards, The Hastings Center (a nonpartisan bioethics institute) had researchers study egg donation advertisements in 306 college newspapers. The author of the study is Aaron Levine of Georgia Tech.

Levine found that nearly a quarter of the ads placed by donation agencies and private couples offered to pay women more than $10, 000, the Wall Street Journal reports. Compensation amounts varied on different college campuses, and was highest at schools boasting the highest average SAT scores for incoming freshmen. Researchers found that for each 100-point increase in the average SAT score, the amount of compensation offered increased by $2,350.

The report includes a few examples. One ad reads: "EARN $18,00-$24,000 with 6 egg donations." Another promises "EARN $5000 - $10000+ BY HELPING INFERTILE COUPLES HAVE FAMILIES." A third offers $5,000 to donors with a "clean healthy history, and height and weight proportionate."

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By Jenna Johnson  |  March 25, 2010; 9:28 AM ET
Categories:  News Overload  | Tags: Georgia Tech  
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