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IVF, surrogacy, embryonic stem cell research, cloning...

These largely unregulated industries
are harming young women for commercial profit.

What women are "at risk" for complications?
ALL of them.

Egg harvesting is an unregulated profit-motivated industry exploiting young women. Their bodies and body parts are reproductive commodities. Young women -- especially young, beautiful, smart university women needing money -- are targeted and recruited by the surrogacy and assisted reproduction industries for their eggs. "Designer offspring." Their eggs also are recruited, traded, sold and re-sold for stem cell embryonic research. These young women aren't fully told the risks, which are substantial, and in large part still hidden and unresearched (in the sense of being authoritatively documented).

A "war on women"? Over the past 20 years, not only have family laws converged in multiple ways to remove women's children from them, but also medical science and international commerce through surrogacy and IVF and reproductive tourism simultaneously have moved to commodify and take from women their reproductive health and parts. This has gone under the radar of the major media, and has been ignored as well in those organizations ostensibly vested in fighting for "women's health" and "reproductive freedom". These same organizations seem far more interested in the reproductive "rights" of everyone but gestating and egg-producing women.

The first test-tube baby, "Louise", was in 1978, and IVF procedures to assist infertile women who were having their own eggs fertilized and then implanted in vitro began five years after that. But in the last two decades, the surrogacy industry, obtaining eggs from donors, has burgeoned, almost completely unregulated. Another industry, involving embryonic stem cell research and its derived therapies, also requires the massive quantities of eggs to be found and harvested from donor women. Almost none of the oftentimes near-hysterical defensive positive advocacy for the potential medical benefits to be derived from this research gives even passing lip service to this reality. Enormous quantities of eggs currently have to be harvested for this research, and even more somehow will have to be found in the future in the event of any successfully derived medical therapies. (Will Big Pharma be swarming down like locusts upon impoverished third-world women to remove their body parts?) All of this is at potentially substantial detriment to the women involved -- and their future offspring. And notwithstanding all the research going on, there is minimal or no tracking of the short- or long-term medical effects on these donors.

While many countries around the world have banned payment to donors (to cut down on the enticement and exploitation), others (such as the U.S.) haven't because the industry has lobbied against such regulations, fearing a significant decrease in "donors" (so much for the pretense to altruistic intent). This notwithstanding, in general the sums paid -- not for "body parts" but for "time and inconvenience" -- may seem substantial to cash-strapped young students, but nevertheless are paltry given the medical risks undertaken by these girls (and the wealth of many of the recipients, not to mention the high profits in the industry). Donors also are typically recruited with rosy pictures painted of how they are helping an infertile couple, but rarely told when excess "harvest" may be used without their permission (or additional payment) for other couples or sold to the stem cell research industry.

Read Jennifer Lahl's Never mind the issues involving the embryos, created, then sometimes implanted, sometimes selectively aborted, sometimes frozen and then destroyed, and sometimes sold for cloning and stem-cell research. Never mind all of the horrendously exploitative violations of motherhood inherent in gestational surrogacy. Harvesting ova -- that ostensibly simple, benign, insignificant and euphemistically-described part of these processes, popularly called by the charitable-sounding moniker "egg donation" -- has been proved to be dangerous to young women. And it's pointlessly dangerous, since these women are not medical patients, and nothing about the risks they are being subjected to involves medical necessity. They are not donating organs desperately needed for someone's life or functional health. It is not akin to donating blood. Or sperm (ten minutes culminating in ejaculating into a cup.) These unpleasant facts largely are ignored in the profit-motivated "regenerative medical science" research as well as the international IVF and surrogacy industries.

For the young women involved, there is little or no medical followup. Instead there is cajoling and emotional and psychological coercion and propaganda. "You're doing such a generous thing." A minimizing and downplaying of the risks. Pollyanna positivism. Enticement with money. Even "referral payments" for bringing in other women. Trendy peer-approved influence. Exploitation of those in desperate need of a little money. Often the egg donors are not made fully aware that if the couple, clinic, physician or their own bodies "cancel the cycle", they will be paid only a nominal sum for their trouble. One woman interviewed by Jennifer Lahl whose "cycle" was canceled by the clinic prior to completion without explanation, had been hyper-stimulated and was left on her own to deal with the medical repercussions of having nearly two-dozen unretrieved eggs in her unnaturally grotesquely swollen ovaries. (From a contract standpoint, this makes it pretty obvious that the payment is for desired ova -- not time, risk or inconvenience. Also that these young women are being induced to enter into what are essentially non-negotiated adhesion contracts.)

Unlike "gestational surrogates", egg donors are more typically younger women, who frequently have not borne their own children, and who may have no real appreciation for what they are getting themselves into or how medical repercussions might affect their own futures. (Sure, there are lots of women who tout how wonderful it has been for them to do both -- although with egg donation, anyone can make an unverified or self-serving claim, such as those women making fortunes running fertility businesses. In a world with billions of people, you can find all kinds. There are women who tout the joys of being sexual masochists or living in polygamous marriages, and women in third-world countries who advocate for FGM. Misery also loves company. Etc.)

There has been no record-keeping systematically monitoring the effects of the egg harvesting on donors or to their long-term health (or of their own future children). Thus, there is no truly informed consent, and in turn no real voluntary choice. The women and their eggs are commodities. Healthy young women are pumped full of dangerous system-altering drugs and hormones (e.g. Lupron, Centrotide, FSH, Human Chorionic Gonadotropin, Follistim, Menopur, Gonal-f, Luveris, Ganirelix, Pergonal), subjected to painful and potentially dangerous surgery, used as egg factories, and then sent on their way. The egg donor is not the patient (or the paying customer) but the retail inventory. More and more of those who have been seriously injured are coming forward to say "Don't do it; don't let your daughters do it". No amount of money is worth risking your health and your future. Ova donation is in no way comparable to or the counterpart of sperm donation.

Egg harvesting can cause ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome and numerous other medical maladies, such as pulmonary complications, fluid imbalances, stroke, bowel and bladder perforation, and all the rest of the potential complications that can arise from injecting unnecessary (and often unregulated) drugs and hormones into the body, as well as undergoing unnecessary surgery. That's what we know about, mostly accidentally and mostly on women subjected to these procedures in connection with treating their own infertility. We have no good data on the long-term effects on previously healthy donors. In addition, the data we do have on infertile women who undergo IVF is data on women who have very different health backgrounds (e.g. infertile ovaries in older women being stimulated versus these same drugs in even higher doses being used on perfectly fertile young women). The former also frequently become pregnant, which may counter some of the long-term medical and hormonal effects of the process. In addition, women typically receiving IVF treatment are patients who are carefully monitored, and they rarely are being overstimulated to retrieve far more eggs than they can possibly use. Egg donors, by contrast, are selling a commodity. More is better. Their bodies are being harvested. Used for profit. With little or no concern for their health or their futures.

Some good video clips are available at Obfuscation, euphemisms, and outright lies are the order of the day. You also can find research at the liz library surrogacy page.

Prospective donors also should read up on all the information they can obtain from Jennifer Lahl, of "Eggsploitation". Listen to Jennifer on the Justice Hour Radio Show on this subject: Lahl.wma or Lahl.mp3 Jennifer Lahl, founder and President of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network, discusses ova "donation" and the exploitation of women.

bengal tiger mother with cubs Very few feminists in national organizations are up-to-date on or working to expose these issues, which have become "untouchables" because of their relationship on the edges to the abortion debates as well as lesbian and gay men's demands for reproductive marriage and family parenthood "rights". One exception is Kathy Sloan of N.O.W., but the board of directors of that organization appears to be divided and conflicted, lest publicizing the issues involved in egg harvesting and gestational surrogacy negatively impact LGBT family law lobbying, or align those who otherwise would be against surrogacy, egg donation and the exploitation of women as reproductive commodities on the same side as the pro-life anti-abortion crowd. Terrible.

Possible side effects:

  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection
  • accidental pregnancy from over-fertility for some time after the procedure
  • uncompensated lost time from school or work
  • uncompensated future medical disorders
  • Ovarian Hyperstimulation Syndrome (OHSS)
  • damage to reproductive organs
  • damage to remaining ova
  • pulmonary complications
  • drug side effects, e.g. vision problems
  • hormonal imbalances
  • Center for Bioethics and Culture Network
  • organ failure
  • perforation of the bladder
  • perforation of the bowel
  • adhesions
  • stroke
  • paralysis
  • gynecologic cancers
  • breast cancer
  • future infertility
  • permanent disability
  • death.

It will only get worse. The fertility industries now are advertising to sell frozen left-over (or newly anonymously created -- it's impossible to tell) embryos. PDF Women in India and elsewhere are being warehoused as surrogates and donors. There is no question in my mind that all of it should be outlawed. -- liz

also see
thelizlibrary index:
Who is a "mother"?

Comments from a few of the women interviewed by Jennifer Lahl:

"And I'm talking to the woman who set up the whole egg brokerage deal, and she said 'It sounds like we're going to have to send you a drop-cycle check' -- which means you didn't quite manage to produce what you were asked to produce. So we're just going to send you $750 and we're just going to call it good.' And I said -- because this is how disoriented and out-of-it I was -- 'I don't see why I can't do it still.' I'd been in the hospital for almost four weeks at that point. I didn't know it, but I couldn't move my left side. And I also didn't know it, but I wasn't a good option as an egg donor, because I didn't have a clean bill of health." -- Eggsploitation, by Jennifer Lahl
"What was unknown after the surgery was that the doctor had punctured an artery during the harvesting. When I awoke from the anesthesia I became weak, nauseous and dizzy. I was scheduled to catch a plane that afternoon, to return home. They told me that I looked good and was ready to go... they thought the anesthesia was causing my low blood pressure. Then I developed pain and difficulty breathing... the doctor and nurse persisted in trying to get me to leave... The pain in my belly became unbearable and I became convinced that I was bleeding internally... after 8 hours... they finally began to realize that something was terribly wrong... The $6500 I was given has long evaporated into medical treatments for multiple late complications caused by this incident..." -- Eggsploitation, by Jennifer Lahl
"Many are improperly informed about the risks of the egg harvesting process. Verbally I was told that the risk was virtually non-existent and that studies have not linked the procedure to cancer and infertility. I should have been told that there were not enough studies or long-term follow-up to determine risk... Even the tiniest risk of complication needs to be taken seriously when dealing with perfectly health young women who have no need to undergo a potentially life-threatening procedure." -- Eggsploitation, by Jennifer Lahl
"In 2002 I was 29 and all-but-dissertation for a Ph.D. in biology... making about $800 a month... For years I had seen ads advertising for egg donors... Money was my primary reason for selling my eggs but my on-line research left me with a positive impression of the process: that I would be helping others, that the process involved a relatively low time commitment... that it was safe... It was flattering to be selected... The list of risks was lengthy but presented as though they were remote... A little more than a week after the retrieval, I awoke with a searing pain in my abdomen... over the next three days my abdomen swelled, I was delerious with pain and fever... I couldn't stop vomiting...
            I finally saw the doctor who had performed the retrieval. He went white when he saw my distended abdomen, and he had me on the operating table in thirty minutes. He removed my right ovary, which had become swollen to the size of a grapefruit and become torsioned in my fallopian tube. I had an infection and was on the verge of peritonitis, and had lost a lot of blood. I was admitted to the hospital -- ostensibly for a day or two -- but stayed two weeks because my bowels were still obstructed. For a week I had a nasogastric tube to apply suction to decompress my intestines. I had a port installed in my chest to receive liquid nutrition...
            Almost five years to the day after my egg donation, I was diagnosed with Stage IIB breast cancer. I was only 34 years old...
" -- Eggsploitation, by Jennifer Lahl

Abuses of Women's Human Rights in Third Party Reproduction by Kathleen Sloan PDF

Faith Haugh, world's best baby egg donor, succumbs to liver cancer at age 42 12/12 Herald Sun

thelizlibrary index:

All pregnant women, by virtue of their pregnant status,
face some level of maternal risk. Data suggest that around
40% of all pregnant women have some complication.
About 15% ... [have complications] that are potentially life-threatening.

Mothers Against the Odds: shocking documentary about the physical harm inflicted on Irish women who underwent brutal nonconsensual "symphysiotomies" during childbirth.

Girls aged 15-19 are twice as likely to die from childbirth
as women in their twenties; those under age 15 are five times as likely to die.

"Can a function so perilous that in spite of the best care, it kills thousands of women every year, that leaves at least a quarter of the women more or less invalided, and a majority with permanent anatomic changes of structure, that is always attended by severe pain and tearing of tissues, and that kills 3%-5% of children -- can such a function be called normal?"             

-- Joseph, B. BeLee, obstetrician, quoted in Wendy Mitchinson, Giving Birth in Canada 1900-1950 (2002) Toronto Press, ISBN 0-8020-8471-0, a history of childbirth in Canada

Why would any woman have a late-term abortion?

Birth Mother -- hideous truth about the adoption industry If a person put this sort of effort and risk into some other venture, would we think it "equality" if someone else got equal credit for the accomplishment, or equal rights in the outcome, just because he had participated -- at his own request or behest -- for a few pleasurable and "fully compensated" minutes?  

Before you tell me about "father's rights," I want to know: what did he put in on his end toward an equivalent, albeit different kind of investment? -- liz

Maternal mortality is so high in the developing world (1 in 48) that it is customary for Tanzanian women about to give birth to bid farewell to their older children.

-- Michele Landsberg, TORONTO STAR, Sat., Sept. 30, 2000,
p. L1 "U.N. Executive Council Fights Inequality With Shocking Facts and Figures"

Pregnancy/childbirth was a leading cause of death
of American women of childbearing age at the turn of the century.
It remains a leading cause of death of women in many countries in the world.

What women aren't told about childbirth:

Is the fetus a parasite?

The short answer is: YES. The medical definition of "parasite" traditionally refers to a different species, but this is an arbitrary criterion, and relaxing somewhat. The "different species" requirement was included in the definition specifically to eliminate pregnancy. However, the delineation of what constitutes a "different species" (organisms unable to reproduce, or at least unable to reproduce fertile offspring) is not always so clear. Consider the many common examples of cross-species pregnancies, for example, a cross between a tiger and lion (a "tigon" or "liger"), or horse-donkey pregnancies that result in a mule or hinnie, including occasional examples of fertile offspring. Would those pregnancies then involve a parasite-host relationship, but not "same-species" pregnancies? What about gestational surrogacy, in which the mother is not genetically related to the fetus? Scientists are now unsure of whether the Neanderthals really were a different species of human. Human beings themselves may have been involved in cross-species pregnancies 30,000 years ago. In fact, in all functional ways, the fetus meets the definition of an "obligate parasite" (a parasite completely unable to live outside of the host). The smaller or incomplete twin in a set of assymetrical conjoined twins may be also considered medically to be a human parasite. While calling a fetus a "parasite" is upsetting and shocking to some, because it carries a repulsive connotation that does not fit with the reality of a loved and wanted child, there really should not be emotional baggage attached to cold facts. We all are hosts to billions of parasites, and biologically, actually have a far more symbiotic relationship with our gut flora than a mother has to a fetus. -- liz

Research study on the effects of abortion
[Information regarding "PASS" -- "Post-abortion Stress Syndrome"]
Induced First-Trimester Abortion and Risk of Mental Disorder
Trine Munk-Olsen, Ph.D., et. al
N Engl J Med 2011; 364:332-339
January 27, 2011

"I believe, as a wage-earning woman, that if I make the great sacrifice of strength and health and even risk my life, to have a child, I should certainly not do so if, on some future occasion, the man can say that the child belongs to him by law and he will take it from me and I shall see it only three times a year!
        -- lsadora Duncan in her biography, My Life (1927)

M. Fathallah, M.D. (researcher)
World's Top Five Causes Of Disease Burden In Young People And Adults Ages 15-44
Female:  1. Maternity  2. Sexually Transmitted Diseases  3. Tuberculosis  4. HIV Infection  5. Depression
Male: 1. HIV Infection 2. Tuberculosis 3. Motor Vehicle Injury 4. Homicide And Violence 5. War

Myth: Most women enjoy being pregnant.
Fact: Some women do; some women don't, and for most, it's just not that simple.   We tend not to hear as often from the women who don't. Lots of women who are happy about being pregnant and who want their babies dislike or even hate the physical pregnancy itself. And every abortion stands as testament to the fact that women are not merely containers carrying an incidental fetus that with just a little more effort and a small bit of inconvenience just could be carried to term and then given up for adoption.


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