Monday, June 17, 2013

Reproduction is not Euvoluntary: Gamete Edition

Alex Tabarrok on the rent-seeking culture in assisted reproduction. Note the language used in the brief: "compensation 'should not be so excessive as to constitute undue inducement.'” Sounds an awful lot like BATNA disparity. Underprivileged women could be coerced by circumstance into selling ova.

Which is, of course, horsepuffles. Premium prices are attached to premium genetic material. It's the eggs of 23 year old PhD candidates with blonde hair and blue eyes that earn the most dough. But that's neither here nor there. I'm most fascinated by the odd paternalism that travels with both BATNA disparity and ex-post regret. You see, you can make a pretty solid argument that the kid in China who swapped his kidney for an iPad a few years back probably ended up regretting his decision. But eggs? Seriously? The alternative is... well, you're all grown-ups. You know what happens when Aunt Flo comes to town.

What's to regret? Prices rise, therefore inducing more women to donate, and what? They get paid more handsomely and some family gets the baby they've always wanted. If that's coercion, well, let's have more of it.

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Do you have suggestions on where we could find more examples of this phenomenon?