Five years after a trade group tried reining them in, fertility clinics and brokers are bidding up prices for eggs sold by cash-strapped college women with top test scores and picture-perfect looks.
Advertisements in campus newspapers and on websites plead daily. “Egg Donors Needed. $10,000,” says one in The Daily Californian, the student newspaper at the University of California, Berkeley. The ad, from a San Diego broker called A Perfect Match, seeks women who are “attractive, under the age of 29” and have SAT scores above 1,300.
Eggs have been traded almost since the fertility industry started 30 years ago. But now, new technologies tied to the Internet have turned the business into a global bazaar of egg merchants, with little regulatory oversight.
Classified-ad website Craigslist publishes 150 ads on a typical day. A Web search for “egg donor” at Google produces dozens of links to advertisers. As other nations curtail the practice — Canada did so in 2004 — the USA is becoming the industry’s last bastion.