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America the “Wild West” of Reproductive Technology

Most Americans are blissfully unaware that this country is fast becoming the world’s retailer of reproductive technologies. Procedures that are rightly considered immoral in other nations are readily available here–at least for those able to pay. Sex-selection abortions and embryo sorting are available here, along with virtually unlimited and unregulated access to a market for sperm and eggs. Suzanne Leigh reports in USA Today that women are coming to the U.S., seeking to become pregnant. As she explains: ” The women are mainly from Canada, Australia and parts of Europe, where tough laws forbid the payment of egg donors and limit those seeking to become pregnant to using eggs from a young friend or family member or from a small pool of unpaid donors. Waiting periods of several years are not uncommon. But in the USA — dubbed the Wild West of reproductive technology by bioethicist Arthur Caplan — there’s an abundance of egg donors who set their own fees as well as a plethora of IVF clinics in many states, which makes pregnancy for even the postmenopausal a possibility. About 50% of IVF procedures using fresh embryos from donor eggs in 2002 resulted in a live birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Costs including drugs, IVF and donor compensation start at around $20,000 and vary widely from clinic to clinic.” Follow the money.