Egg donation is an important reproductive issue which raises many questions which impact decision-making and basic medical ethics. There are ethical implications related to egg donation which may be based upon financial implications, thereby creating an environment in which this practice becomes big business rather than a means of enabling individuals to conceive children. Therefore, this alternative is not conducive to practical ethical decision-making and may be observed as an infringement upon individual rights. It is important to address these issues because egg donation is an ethical issue of critical importance to prospective donors, recipients, and the medical community. This practice requires further analysis and consideration to determine how to best manage the outcomes related to egg donation and how this raises ethical concerns in some individuals and groups.
Egg donation poses a challenge to individuals because it impacts autonomy in that uninformed consent may be observed and there is less individual freedom in decision-making (Stanford University). Justice is unequal in egg donation because only those who can afford to have treatment are typically able to move forward, while others must wait and may not have the ability to conceive for medical or financial reasons (Stanford University). For donors, they must undergo an invasive procedural method, thereby creating a situation involving maleficence because they face risk and harm with this procedure, including scarring and the risk of ovarian cancer (Stanford University). Therefore, there is little benefit to this procedure from this perspective and compromises the health of those who donate, regardless of their reasons for doing so. From an ethical perspective, this is highly questionable behavior and has a potentially devastating impact on individuals if they experience complications that lead to greater harm (Boylan, 2013). It is important to weigh the ethical pros and cons of egg donation prior to making any decisions regarding this method because it may not lead to the desired effects.
Egg donation also creates other challenges with respect to the development of frameworks which impact access to this practice, particularly in countries where medical advancements are slower and are limited (Brezina & Zhao, 2012). At the same time, egg donation may not be ethically appropriate in some cultures, thereby leaving infertile couples without many options (Brezina & Zhao, 2012). There are risk factors associated with egg donation due to the risk of exposure of the donor’s identity, which may not be the preferred choice of the donor (Brezina & Zhao, 2012). In this capacity, there are risk factors for women who donate their eggs with the intent to support the greater good of this practice, while also recognizing that their principles may be compromised when this practice is taken for granted and used for financial gain (Brezina & Zhao, 2012). Therefore, the ethical nature of donation is questioned and creates a difficult situation for individual donors who participate in this process for altruistic reasons, but may be taken advantage of for financial purposes.
Egg donation creates many ethical challenges for donors and for recipients in different ways. Donors may face the risk of exposure of their identities, along with risks related to the use of eggs for financial gain and not for the direct purpose of supporting infertility. In this context, the procedure is a direct infringement upon personal and medical ethics and poses many challenges for those who are directly affected by this process. It is important to address some of these ethical challenges and to determine how to overcome the risk of harm that may be a product of this practice. This will support egg donation for its intended purpose and will eliminate other factors which create ethical challenges related to this practice.