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A Christian Guide to Egg Donation

There was a time when women went off to university armed only with parents’ warnings about being safe, studying hard, and avoiding activities that might disrupt their education. Today, young women heading to university need to be forewarned about people who want to buy their eggs for between $5,000 and $20,000.1 USA Today recently reported that newly-minted Ph.D. Courtney Henderson used the $27,000 she made selling her eggs to buy a home in the sizzling real-estate market in San Diego.2 This recent phenomenon of buying and selling human eggs is deeply troubling.

Infertile couples or individuals may want to use egg donors because of problems with a woman’s ovulation, because her eggs are not healthy, or because she carries a genetic condition she does not want to pass on to her offspring. An egg donor may be sought from a fertility clinic or one of the growing number of donor databases springing up in the world. Once the eggs have been harvested, the husband’s sperm or sperm from a donor is then introduced through in vitro fertilization,3 and embryos are produced. The embryos are then transferred to the woman’s uterus.

In addition to the health risks,4 there are several moral problems with egg donation. First, egg donation, like anonymous sperm donation and surrogacy arrangements, introduces a third party into the procreative relationship. A gift from God’s gracious hand, children are to be born to a monogamous, heterosexual married couple. The introduction of third-party gametes (eggs or sperm) corrupts the reproductive relationship between a wife and her husband. Some have even suggested that gamete donation amounts to a kind of biotech adultery. Whether or not this is the case, introducing a third party into the procreative lives of a couple is fraught with difficulties.

In addition, children born from third-party arrangements may suffer psychological and emotional confusion when they learn that their genetic inheritance is shared only by one of their parents. True, adopted children do not share the genetics of their parents, but adoption is a form of rescuing a child who has already been born; egg donation intentionally brings a child into the world with third-party genes. And children should know who their biological parents are, since they may need to know whether their biological parents have any genetically inheritable medical conditions. It would not be appropriate to keep this information from them.

Finally, egg donation contributes to a consumerist eugenics mindset. Advertisements for egg donors often list desirable traits of an acceptable donor. For instance, one advertisement lists as “unfavorable characteristics of egg donors”: family history of breast cancer, Parkinson’s disease, mental illness, hyperactivity, dyslexia, alcohol or drug abuse, ovarian, cervical, or prostate cancer; while “favorable traits” include: energetic, young, healthy weight.5 Some ads also give preference to women with high intelligence scores, athletic abilities, and musical and/or mathematical aptitudes. The message is clear, some children are more desirable than others.

While Christian couples obviously should desire children and while Christians should feel compassion for infertile couples, third-party reproductive arrangements are unwise at best. They corrupt the one-flesh relationship between a married couple, confuse a child’s genetic inheritance, and contribute to the consumerist eugenics mentality that is growing more pervasive in our culture. Any one of these reasons is enough to avoid egg donation. Together, they represent powerful reasons to refuse egg donation as a Christian option.


Laura Marquez, “College Students Targeted for Egg Donation,” ABC News, May 19, 2006, (accessed July 27, 2006).


Noelle Knox, “Buyers in More Markets Find Housing Out of Reach,”, June 26, 2006, (accessed July 26, 2006).


See Kairos Journal article, "What Should Christians Think of IVF?"


See Kairos Journal article, "'Eggsploitation' of Women through Egg Donation."


Felicia Brown, “Infertility Clinic Solicits Women for Eggs,” The Carolina Reporter Archived Webpage, December 20, 2004,
sa%3DN (accessed July 27, 2006).

Another advert put it this way: “Would you like to help a loving couple realize their dream of becoming parents?...and be well compensated for your time? If you are 20-27, have black/brown hair and eyes, med-fair skin please call 415-485-1969. All ethnic backgrounds welcome. PREMIUM FEE OFFERED.” Classified Ads, The Stanford Daily, July 12, 2006, (accessed July 26, 2006).