Egg Donation for Assisted Reproduction

by Hironari Shibata

Egg donation is one of the treatments done to women that want children but they can’t have kids because of the women being infertile. The book that we read talked about egg donation in the United States, and focused on the racial issues that African-American women face in the process of egg donation. However, in this blog, I would like to discuss about egg donations in Japan, and how Japanese (also Asian) women are treated in the United States when they become donors.

In Japan, egg donation is kind of in the gray zone, because law neither accepts it nor law prohibits it. However, paying and receiving money through egg donation is clearly prohibited. Some hospitals practice egg donations in Japan, but the numbers are very low. According to Akiko Okazaki, many young Japanese women go abroad (mainly Korea, Thailand) to donate their eggs and receive money (Okazaki, 2011).

In the United States, where egg donations are more popular, the demand for Asian eggs is now very high. Shan Li explains that Asian donors are paid way higher price for their eggs compared to other women’s eggs of different race (Li, 2012). The price for Asian eggs is high because of mainly two reasons. First reason is that Asian women are thought to have high educational backgrounds, and the child from their egg might have better brains compared to others (ibid.). However, there is no scientific evidence to support this. Another reason is that the supply of Asian eggs is lower than the demands for Asian eggs (ibid.). This can be explained from the Asian culture. I think that Asian people tend to care more about race and moral aspects of donating eggs to another people. Especially in Japan, egg donation is not familiar to most of the people, and they question the morality behind egg donation. Is it okay to donate your egg to someone that you don’t know? Is it okay to receive an egg from someone you have never met before? These feelings make it hard for women to start donating their eggs, even if it’s in a far away country. It will take a lot of time for egg donations to become popular in Japan.

Reference

Li, S. (2012). Retrieved June 12, 2012 from Los Angeles Times: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-egg-donation-20120504,0,616365,full.story

Okazaki, A. (2011). Retrieved June 12, 2012 from Asahi Shinbun: http://www.asahi.com/english/TKY201107270424.html

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5 thoughts on “Egg Donation for Assisted Reproduction

  1. I think it’s wrong what they are doing. They tend to care about the money & not only that the parent have very high expectations. I think it’s not only being greedy & judgmental but I thinks this could damage their image & also relations with the black & Latino communities & also their alliances with the two Ethinc groups.

      • Sorry Moorehead I should have said it on my comment Asian families & the Asian American communities. Also not only that giving someone an egg donation to someone you don’t know is very wrong. I hope I got this right Moorehead.

      • I don’t think it’s fair to condemn someone who’s looking to help a couple have a child. If you are opposed to it, then you don’t have to use such reproductive technologies. The research Hironari refers to shows that this isn’t just about money. For the donor, the recipient, and the agencies that connect them, this is much more than a financial transaction and isn’t about greed.

        It’s still not clear how Asian couples looking for Asian egg donors are any different from other people looking for egg donors. The only difference is that there are fewer Asian women who are willing to donate, which then causes couples to offer more money as part of their efforts to encourage more young women to donate. How that would affect Asians’ relations with blacks and latinos is still unclear. Blacks and latinos aren’t looking for Asian donors any more than Asians are looking for black or latino donors. As for the difference in money paid to donors of different backgrounds, in a sense they’re different markets–because people tend to prefer that the donor look similar to them.

        If you’re interested in these issues, I encourage you to read Charis Thompson’s “Skin Tone and the Persistence of Biological Race in Egg Donation for Assisted Reproduction,” in the book Shades of Difference, edited by Evelyn Nakano Glenn.

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