For Immediate Release Contact: Jim Wetmore
November 10, 1999


The State of New Jersey is considering a new bill (S.2134) that would prohibit the sale of human eggs, sperm and embryos as part of any infertility treatment procedure.

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NEW YORK, NY A new bill recently introduced in the New Jersey State Senate sponsored by Senator Leonard T. Connors, Jr. and Senator Martha W. Bark would make it a crime for any person to knowingly acquire, receive, buy, sell or transfer for valuable consideration any human egg, sperm or embryo for use as part of any assisted reproductive technology service or procedure. The bill allows payments only for medical costs associated with treatment and reimbursement for expenses associated with travel, housing, and lost wages during the donation process. It would, however, make it illegal to continue with the customary practice of offering compensation to donors for the time and risk involved in this procedure.

We are already experiencing a shortage of donors available for couples who want to consider this important option to help them build a family. Without being able to offer some form of compensation for a donors time and discomfort, thousands of hopeful families would never have the opportunity to use donated eggs and sperm to have a baby, said Pamela Madsen, a nationally known patient advocate and the executive director of the American Infertility Association (AIA).

"In an attempt at well-meaning legislation, politicians are again trying to legislate the practice of medicine, which is not always in the best interest of patients. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine has guidelines regarding the ethical treatment of donor egg patients that have worked well over the years and are being ignored in this legislation," said Dr. Jamie Grifo, Director of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology at Mt Sinai-NYU Health.  "Donors are not paid for their eggs or their sperm. They should be fairly and rightly compensated for the inconvenience, time and risks involved in the donation process," Dr. Grifo added. "This vague legislation lends itself to subjective interpretation, which will ultimately deter donors and have a chilling effect on our ability to help patients. Laws like these sound like a good idea, but no legislator ever goes out into the field after passing such a law to really understand its impact.

Controversy over the Rons Angels Web site, where models eggs were offered for sale at public auction, has focused national attention on this issue in recent weeks.  Concerns about egg donation raised by the Rons Angels Web site and other issues should not lead us to introduce legislation that would unfairly limit access to this important treatment option, Madsen added

In 1996, the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in England announced that it was opposed to compensation for egg and sperm donors other than reimbursement for expenses. The organization reversed that decision in December of 1998 when it became clear that the removal of payments seriously jeopardized the supply of egg and sperm donors for couples in that country. Research commissioned by the HFEA has shown that the majority of sperm donors would only choose to donate if they were compensated for their time and effort.

The American Infertility Association, headquartered in New York City, is an independent national nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting women and men facing decisions related to family building and reproductive health from prevention and treatment to social and psychological concerns and to forward these causes through advocacy, education, awareness building and research funding. The mission of the AIA is to serve as a lifetime resource for men and women needing reproductive information and support.