Is donor egg exploitation part and parcel of the fertility industry? Members of our tribe here have expressed concerns around several angles of this including the pressure to use donor eggs, for example, and the information withheld from women exploring this avenue. (See this previous article about whether to proceed with this fertility clinic.)
But with current beliefs around the biological clock after 40 fertilizing the background, the idea that getting pregnant with donor eggs is the only option left, takes root and quickly begins to assume control of the entire fertility landscape at this point. So we start thinking about donor eggs or begin to feel that we ought to.
And find ourselves wondering things like "should I give up or try with donor eggs?" - due especially to fears of having a high risk pregnancy, reduced egg quality and in an effort to prevent chromosomal abnormalities. (Because nobody has told us that there might be feminine wisdom to be revealed in the story of chromosomal abnormalities.)
I have explored the issue of infertility costs exploitation elsewhere, but this post was inspired by an email I received from Marianna about her "behind the scenes experience" of donor egg exploitation. Here is what she shared:
"Dearest Deirdre! I wanted to respond to your latest posts (including the one about when a partner doesn't want donor eggs). I felt very uneasy when I first read them. So I knew I had to look into my feelings. This is what came up for me.
I believe that donor eggs and adoption are beautiful ways to become a mother. As long as they are grounded in love. As long as they do not emerge out of fear, despair and defeat. In my experience the latter is most often the case. Let me share a scene with you.....
A couple of years ago I visited an ob-gyn for consultation. At some point he offered me a cup of tea in the clinic's garden. As we were enjoying our tea five men arrived.
They were identical, all in black suits, wearing dark sun-glasses, as though they had popped up from the movie "Matrix". "Do you suspect what these men are doing?" the nice doctor asked me.
"They have come to our clinic to sell eggs. They merchandise eggs. This is a thriving, lucrative industry.
But for this industry to thrive, women like you need to feel that they are somehow damaged, that their eggs are old, that they are unable to conceive their own child. Women like you need to feel weak and disempowered. Hence all the statistics."
I immediately sensed that he was right. I thought of my good friend Athena who was told she would never conceive unless she used donor eggs. It took all the courage of the world for her to refute that statement and then went on to naturally conceive 2 babies!
I thought of my friend Christina who was told by her doctor that she was "a very old car". Christina never managed to overcome that statement. She has been feeling like "an old car" ever since and all her donor egg cycles have failed.
I thought of my ex who, in spite of having serious sperm issues which originally led us to ivf, used to tell me: "Marianna, the problem is yours given your age. I can have children in my eighties."
So in my path, the donor eggs discourse has very strong patriarchal connotations.
And although I feel very happy for every woman who becomes a mother no matter how, I get really overexcited every time a woman summons up her feminine power and proves these smug men, who take pleasure in dis empowering us, wrong.
Still believing that I may be one of these women. Lots of love, Marianna."
Thank you so much Marianna for sharing your experience of donor egg exploitation along with your feminine wisdom which is so valuable too. In this industry, without a doubt, there is huge opportunity for donor egg exploitation.
Firstly, the possibilities of what can be done with stem cells, eggs and embryos expands every day it seems, in environments that may or may not be regulated appropriately. So donor egg exploitation can occur at that level. But it can also show up in how egg donors are recruited and treated, and with the rights of the actual eggs, embryos, babies, and biological or gestational mothers in question.
On top of this, all new developments in the field are taking place in a patriarchal world in which female fertility has been explained, managed and pretty much owned by the mascuIine. In other words the female voice and perspective has been largely excluded, not only from our understanding of the creative process itself but also from our ability to contribute to and play the role of stewardship in this unfolding world.
Does this really matter? Evidence that patriarchal language affects fertility we have explored elsewhere. How we - as women - have been trained into giving power to patriarchy has been elucidated upon also.
But it is much more basic level of society that need to evolve in order to ensure that donor egg exploitation does not exist. What are they? The belief that a woman's role, value and contribution is tied up in her ability to produce and rear children is one. (This is part of what drives women to want donor eggs).
Another is the fact that even if we have been 'educated', women have been socialised into being financial dependent on a man (marriage), a job, a bank or all of these patriarchal institutions. (This is often what motivated women to donate eggs).
So what can we do about donor egg exploitation now? We begin by engaging our feminine wisdom here together to form the picture of what we would love in the future instead. I invite you to play with me here with this while I start the feminine ball rolling:
Won't it be lovely when we as women are financially empowered, independent and efficient in managing our resources, talents and wealth for the long-term? Won't it be delightful when we feel deeply our intrinsic value whether or not we are mothers or wives?
Isn't it going to be fun when we understand our Creative Feminine™ power and how to leverage that in the most efficient way? Won't it be magical when we show up with the donor egg industry in ways that honour us as women and the children we are birthing together. Or as Marianna put it beautifully "grounded in love....not out of fear, despair and defeat".
By engaging our feminine wisdom, these will be parts of the new paradigm we are creating together in the world of female fertility and motherhood - so we don't have to keep donor eggs a secret. I invite you to fill in some more of the picture with us. What would you love to see happening so that donor egg exploitation is a thing of the past? Please share with us below because your feminine contribution here really matters in this beautiful co-creation!