Egg Money

The advertisement featured a stork carrying a baby, and it began turning up a few weeks ago in Ivy League college newspapers. "Egg Donor Needed," the ad read. Applicants must be at least 5 foot 10, be in good health, and score at least 1400 on their Scholastic Achievement Test. The payment for a handful of healthy eggs: a whopping $50,000. Within days of the ad's appearance, 200 women had responded, some from as far away as Finland and New Zealand. Among college coeds, the quickest way to pay staggering tuition bills is with "egg money". But if this trend catches on it could change the very definition of what it means to be human. Typically, infertility clinics advertise for healthy young women willing to allow the clinic to harvest their eggs. Egg donors take fertility drugs to stimulate their ovaries to produce as many eggs as possible. Using a needle, doctors then aspirate the eggs, which are later implanted in the wombs of anonymous recipients. Dr. Mark Sauer, director of an assisted reproduction program at Columbia University, says the average donor is a college student who is "clearly doing this because of financial gain." Women are typically paid about $5,000 for their eggs--but it is clear today that recipients are getting into the bidding business. Tall, smart Ivy Leaguers are really going to hit the jackpot. But what are the ethical issues involved in the sale of human eggs? For example, in some states there is no limit to how many times a woman may donate eggs. But what happens if two people spawned from the same donor should meet and marry? It could be a genetic disaster if they had children. Federal law prohibits the sale of human eggs. But clinics get around the law by telling women they are paying for their "time and inconvenience," not for their eggs. Perhaps worst of all is what egg harvesting teaches women about their own worth. In an article in Jane magazine called "Chicks Selling Their Eggs," a young woman named Martha said: "It occurred to me that they were going to pay me money for something I wasn't ever going to use." Federal law prohibits the sale of human eggs. Let's cut through the fog: What we're seeing here is the triumph of a completely mechanistic view of human life. The human body is regarded not as a gift from God but as a purely physical object to be taken apart, sold, and used--just like any other physical object. Human eggs are regarded merely as a commodity--which is perfectly logical if you have a naturalistic worldview. But think of how it dehumanizes us. In her book, Without Moral Limits, Debra Evans writes: "Women are not machines of reproduction, but each are unique, individual persons in body, mind and spirit." And of course, that is exactly what the Bible teaches. Genesis says we are made in the image of God--that we find our ultimate identity and worth in reflecting our Creator. That the human body should not be violated. It is worthy of respect. You and I have to help our neighbors understand that this mechanistic view traces our identity in the image of the machine. This is nothing but idolatry: people bowing down to the work of their own hands. And like every form of idolatry, it degrades and dehumanizes all who worship at its shrine.


Chuck Colson



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