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Is the HFEA’s policy on compensating egg donors and egg sharers defensible?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article


Journal publication date2013
JournalMedical Law Review
Number of pages40
Early online date18/10/12
Original languageEnglish


This paper asks whether the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority's (HFEA's) recently revised policies on compensating egg donors and egg sharers are defensible, paying particular heed to the ethical arguments, concepts, and principles deployed in support of them. The paper proceeds by briefly outlining both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ HFEA policies before describing and explaining the main arguments that are supposed to underpin these. The arguments are then subjected to scrutiny and generally found wanting. The paper's primary conclusion is that treating egg sharers more generously than egg donors (which is what both the ‘old’ and ‘new’ policies do) is inconsistent and unjustified. In order to render the HFEA's policies consistent, it would need either to limit more strictly the benefits-in-kind available to egg sharers or to take a more permissive approach to monetary compensation for egg donors. The paper's secondary conclusion is that the latter is preferable. Egg donors could, provided that suitable regulatory controls were in place, be compensated more generously without this being ethically problematic. Furthermore, since egg sharing is in some respects more problematic than other forms of egg donation, there is something to be said for encouraging a move away from sharing to donation.