Considering the Risks of Egg Donation

October 21, 2009

Earlier this month, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into a law a bill, AB 1317, which requires advertisements seeking egg donors for fertility treatment to include a notice about the possible adverse health effects of egg donation.

Such advertisements must contain standard warning language that there may be risks associated with human egg donation, and advise potential donors that they are required to receive specifics on the known risks before signing a legally binding contract. The required language also recommends consulting with one’s physician prior to donation.

The state already had a law requiring such a warning summary be provided to women donating eggs for research purposes. That existing law also sets out the specifics of the warning to be provided to women prior to signing a contract for donation. The warning needs to consist of “medically accurate disclosures” concerning the potential risks associated with the surgical procedure for egg retrieval as well as the “drugs, medications, and hormones” prescribed for ovarian stimulation during the process.

Relatedly, one publisher of classroom materials has recently released a book on the topic of egg donation intended for a young audience. Egg Donation: The Reasons and the Risks is listed as being intended for grades 7-12, and at a 6th grade reading level. The book seems focused on egg donation for fertility (not research) purposes, with the description noting that it “explains the current controversy” as well as “the basic science behind egg harvesting and in vitro fertilization and describing the process donors go through to help other women conceive.” Potential health risks and ethical issues are also apparently covered.

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