Philippa Taylor: Shame on the BBC for this egg-donation advert

What a coup for the human egg selling industry – the BBC has decided to give it some free advertising and PR. By posting this news story 'Why I chose to donate my eggs' on its home page, with not one single hint of the ethical and exploitative harmful mess that is egg donation, it has shown not just bias but utter ignorance. Its standard of reporting is shameful.

So let me help the BBC with this issue.

Egg ‘donation’ exploits both women’s health and their purses. Anonymous gamete donation can also cause a lifetime of harm to the children born.

I’ll start with the women drawn into selling (sorry, donating) their eggs. The health risks of egg donation (see here too ) are significant. As this Parliamentary question reveals, there is no follow-up of women’s health after egg donation, yet we know it can cause major, long-term health issues, as well as psychological harm. In fact the daughter of a friend was hospitalised.
There is exploitation involved. Only the disadvantaged, economically needy, fertile, vulnerable and – deliberately targeted – students donate eggs, rarely wealthy women. Why? Because it is risky, painful, invasive and emotionally damaging, so in general only those needing an incentive will consider doing it, ie cash (£750 per cycle of donation) or free IVF.
As for the children, no one is prepared to research fully the effect on them either. The HFEA, Government and regulatory bodies all fail to follow up women who have donated eggs, or women who have received donated eggs, or children who are born of donated gametes. It is an industry left to its own devices. We and others have called time and again for proper follow-up.

We are left with having to draw lessons from adopted children. And the lessons to be learnt from them are that they frequently feel a deep sense of loss if they don’t know about their genetic parents, despite having loving adoptive parents. Additionally, their medical histories are being denied them. This website reveals some of the life-long heartache of people who were donor-conceived. (To clarify, adoption is a positive and mutually beneficial act, providing a child for a childless couple and a loving home for a child in need. It is making the best of a difficult situation, whereas the fertility industry deliberately and intentionally creates difficult situations, and loss, for financial gain). Egg and sperm donation is unique, and should be seen as more than just a moment of donation, because it will impact several generations hence. The gametes produced now will produce children, who will have their own children – it is not just a ‘one-off’ event. It denies basic knowledge about themselves that the rest of us take for granted.

And driving it all – now with the help from the BBC – is an industry. Women’s eggs are needed for the fertility industry and for embryo research (including gene editing, creating three-parent babies, hybrids etc). How do scientists get hold of the hundreds of eggs needed? By enticing women with cash or cut-price IVF. (See this advert here). Such incentives are essential because there are no health benefits, only risks, for women donors – and it is ethically dubious research.

Unlike the licencepayer-funded BBC, the Daily Mail has done a little more investigation into egg donation and discovered that fertility clinics have been exploiting couples desperate to have children. The major allegation was that women were being persuaded to donate their healthy eggs in return for free IVF at clinics in London, Hertfordshire and County Durham. Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt says the allegations are serious and worrying.

Does the health and wellbeing of women count for so little? Where are the feminists standing up for them? Where are the regulators? The lack of tracking, research and data is shocking. Egg donors need to know that long-term research on their health simply is not there. And the BBC should certainly not be in the business of so blatantly promoting it.

Philippa Taylor

  • Nick Muir

    The author asserts that egg donation poses a ‘significant’ risk to women’s health. I found this rather alarming as my wife has gone through two IVF cycles. I therefore followed her references. Several of these lead back to her own articles. I also read the parliamentary question she refers to, and the cabinet office report on the functioning of the HFEA cited in one of her links. I was relieved to discover that none of these in any way support her rather alarming and unwarranted statements.

    • Murial2468

      Have you looked at Naprofertility Nick?
      http://lifefertilitycare.co.uk/infertility/10-reasons-to-choose-npt-2/

      IVF involves the creation and discarding or “freezing” of humans.

      We conceived and now have a toddler with help from napro technique.

      Even if we had not there would have been adoption or even just accepting that a fulfilling life is there to be had. Children are not a right or a need.

      Really hope you reconsider on IVF

      • Nick Muir

        Firstly congratulations on your success. Secondly please don’t make any assumptions about my situation and keep your sanctimonious judgments to yourself.

        • Simon Platt

          Uncalled for.

          • Nick Muir

            Absolutely called for. Firstly I love her assumption that the two IVF cycles were unsuccessful. It’s what she wants to believe. Concern for the embryo trumps all else. Secondly an embryo is not a ‘human’ and I have not been complicit in freezing or destroying anyone.

          • Tricia

            You are wrong. Each embryo is made up of the genetic details of the forebears. They are the future line. To give away your eggs like sweeties is amoral. Children deserve to know their heritage and their lineage. You have no right to deprive a child of knowing their heritage – grandparents, great grandparents etc. This is a very cruel brave new world of selfish individuals who do not consider the right of the child to know their parentage and genetics

          • Nick Muir

            Nope Tricia an embryo is a cluster of cells and not a human being. Every cell in my body contains my genetic code, but a cell is not a human being either. Egg donation is not like giving someone a sweetie – did you actually read the BBC article? It seems to me an act of considerable generosity, and it also seems probable that any child conceived in that way would be a wanted child. Maybe you should apply your pro life sentiments to the legions of children conceived in the traditional way who are unwanted abandoned and abused by their parents.

          • Tricia

            You totally miss the point of taking away the child’s identity. The child belongs to the family of the mother whose egg it is formed from. It is not generosity as the article points out – it is coercion for payment of IVF treatment or monetary. It also comes with risks certainly if a number of eggs are harvested.
            A child is the product of a mother and a father – most children are cherished by their parents and it is the most successful way if raising happy children – the fact that some families are not as good as others is irrelevant to the discussion.

          • Sargv

            > Secondly an embryo is not a ‘human’ and I have not been complicit in freezing or destroying anyone.

            That depends on a country. “Embryo is not a human” is not a scientific stance, but rather a legal shortcut that allows some societies to say that abortion is not and infanticide, and hence should not incur punishment. It’s very convenient for women and men alike, and allows the society to largely avoid the conflict with “right to live”.

            So I’d say: an embryo is not a human while in Britain. Make sure to check local laws while abroad.

    • Jenni Wren

      This is a largely fact free site

      • martianonlooker

        You will feel right at home then.

      • Nick Muir

        They have alternative facts!

      • Philippa Taylor

        see my reply to Nick Muir above

        • Jenni Wren

          Why?

    • Philippa Taylor

      Thanks for your comments. I refer back to several of my previous blogs for the sake of brevity. If you follow the links there you’d quickly find useful refs. Here are one or two that I’ve linked to: http://www.bmj.com/content/342/bmj.d436,
      One from the HFEA (as I say, based on data that is self-reported, and inaccurate because there is no record linkage and no proper data collection but I cite HFEA as it’s the UK regulator) see p8 http://ifqtesting.blob.core.windows.net/umbraco-website/1148/adverse_incidents_in_fertility_clinics_2010-2012_-_lessons_to_learn.pdf (p8)
      I also cite medLine for a summary of OHSS. There are so many refs I could give but blogs are short. However seeing as you mention you’d read the PQ that shows how there is no oversight of this, you will find this recent Parliamentary debate of interest, (and revealing). this is the kind of stuff I am trying to highlight. My blogs have also highlighted the useful official review by McCracken too, which you have ignored.
      https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2016-01-20/debates/16012030000004/IVFWelfareOfWomen

      • Nick Muir

        You describe IVF as a significant risk to women’s health. Quantify significant for me. It is estimated that 250,000 children have been born through IVF in the UK. Given the success rate of the treatment IVF cycles must be in the millions. No medical treatment is without risk, and as with any treatment the risks – and I have some experience here – are clearly presented by the practitioner. You are scaremongering to support your own ethical position which is based on your religious views. Fine you don’t like IVF. So don’t have IVF, but don’t impose your personal, and to my mind selfish and idiotic, morality on the rest of us.

        • Philippa Taylor

          Last time I’ll comment as my opinions and many links are all in blogs. No one can quantify significant risk, as you well know, which is why I have not. A particular problem with egg donation (as per the BBC article) is that women take risks with their health for no personal benefit or therapy. That is different to IVF. Moreover, as I keep saying, along with others, there is no good research or data yet women are being drawn into egg donation without being told that. This is not informed consent. Lastly, the attempt to dismiss my point because you say it is based on religious views simply reflects a laziness in engagement i.e.. attack the person not argument! Where in the blog did I cite anything religious? Is Siobhan McDonagh MP presenting the same case and facts because she’s religious? I think not!! Tackle the point not the person.

          • Nick Muir

            My final comment too. You have no evidence that the collection of eggs for donation, or for IVF, puts women at ‘significant risk’. A single parliamentary question is not sufficient; in facts it’s incredibly weak. And I absolutely stand by my assertion that your objection is moral and ethical, and not based on medical risk. What particularly makes my blood boil is your glib reference to 3 parent children, and your dismissal of embryo research as axiomatically wrong. Have you ever actually witnessed the short miserable and pain filled life of a child mitochondrial disease? Incredibly you probably characterise that as a ‘pro life’ stance too.

          • Phil R

            So let’s gather data and see who is right,

            Something tells me that it won’t happen anytime soon

    • Sargv

      Some people told me that eating glass shards is bad for your health, but so far I was unable to find any study that confirms it, so I assume it should be false.

      Jokes aside, IVF is a politically charged topic, on par with the side effects of The Pill. You will get no grants to research this, and your career will be destroyed by public outrage if you dare to publish your results (assuming they would be negative).

      Anyway, good luck to you and your wife. Hopefully, the lack of studies on adverse effects of IVF is indeed caused by the absence of the effects.

  • Flaketime

    Shame on the BBC full stop! Nearly every day they broadcast something which grossly offends me, but being white causing offence to me doesn’t matter !

    Equality is just a palatable cover for depriving white people of their hard won rights freedoms & entitlements, used on every occasion to justify that which is clearly wrong.

    • Harley Quin

      The Equality fanatics ignore the fact that democracy exists so that the majority gets its way peaceably.

      If the majority sees, as now, an unrepresentative political class allowing minority interests to take precedence over those of the majority, serious consequences are likely to flow.

      At best these will involve increasing contempt for the democratic process and at worst civil violence.

  • Pozieres

    Albeeb used to be a national treasure. It is now a national embarrassment. I watch very little of its output and would happily watch none at all if I could opt out of paying the Licence fee while still continuing to watch broadcasts from other, more acceptable stations. It is an utter disgrace that I am forced, on pain of imprisonment if I don’t, to pay for their mendacious and biased propaganda.

  • Flaketime

    Just in case anyone hasn’t seen this astonishing story:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-5090855/BBC-workers-snapped-asleep-desks.html

    BBC Newsroom staff asleep at their desks, and the corporation then official stating that they are doing the right thing !

    Its official press office twitter account retweeted an article by the Huffington Post claiming BBC workers who slept on the job were actually doing the right thing.

    Be careful with this, it could easily being on attacks of foaming at the mouth, gnashing of teeth or even thundering apoplexy !

    • Harley Quin

      The more asleep they are, the safer we are.

      • James60498 .

        I am quite happy for them to have a 10% bonus for every hour that they sleep.

        I will even accept a reasonable licence fee increase to pay for it

  • Harley Quin

    BBC bias is so part of that organisation’s DNA that they don’t notice it. They think it is normality. So anyone who disagrees with it is ‘an extremist’.

    • martianonlooker

      True.
      ” shown not just bias but utter ignorance”. Isn’t that why we are forced to pay the TV tax? No one in their right mind would pay for the guff they broadcast.

    • Flaketime

      When you are at the North Pole every direction is South !

  • The BBC is a law unto itself.
    They are trying to establish a monopoly, they are trying to take over UK TV which runs such channels as Dave, Yesterday and Drama. They apparently own half the shares and are trying to borrow the money to take over the rest. I believe that this should be strongly opposed.

    • Reborn

      The BBC has always had monopoly tendencies.
      Even after ITV was established in 1956 (?) the BBC still campaigned for it to
      be closed down.
      When the Pirates emerged, the BBC led the campaign to shut them down, and then
      poached some of their DJs.
      More recently, it was leading the campaign about the dangers of the internet.
      Bearing in mind Corbyn’s presence there, plus islamists & jihadists, they had a point.,
      though it was not the type of material the BBC had in mind 20 years back.

      • I object to them spending that amount of money which should be put into quality programmes. The Sky takeover is being opposed on the grounds that itwo much of the media will be in control of one company/person. The BBC is trying to do the very same thing.

  • Sargv

    Ah, “Your body – your choice” strikes again.

    The adoption of that motto, so loved by feminists and libertarians alike, was to secure the right to abort. But it was really poorly thought through. Because now some women are choosing to sell their bodies. The market forms, and now every function that female body is capable of – has a price.

    And there is NOTHING you can do about it until you get back to the idea that some level of social control over individual freedom over her or his body is absolutely normal for a healthy society.

  • Ed McA

    Bias and fake news runs throughout the BBC. Many events, such as the recent Czech elections, are not covered on their mainstream channels because they don’t like the outcome. They are also unrepresentative of the nation in their personnel structure but then I suppose that’s designed to shock the rest of us who believe we are almost sane.
    As Philippa states, they frequently report a headline but then fail to investigate behind the scenes and this is symtomatic of shoddy juornalism.