Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SAT Scores and Other Desired Traits Determine Price of a Woman's Eggs

Slate Magazine: The Egg Market, by William Saletan:

What determines the price of a woman's eggs? SAT scores.

. . . A market in lucrative traits is developing. Wealthy people are buying smarter babies. Even if your kids get the same private schooling, their kids will do better. Money is buying more than tutors and test prep. It's buying merit.

I'm not talking about all-out consumer eugenics. We're far from clarifying the genes involved in complex traits, and even further from verifying a safe way to mess with those genes. But where genetic correlates are known, market forces have already moved in. Last year, a U.S. fertility company advertised eye-, hair-, and skin-color selection in human embryos. Facing a backlash, the company suspended its plan, but not for lack of technical ability, and not before half a dozen potential clients requested the tests.

How big is the market for trait selection? In a New York University survey, 10 percent to 13 percent of patients seeking genetic counseling said they would screen embryos to select height, intelligence, or athletic ability. That's the number who admit they'd do it. . . . .

Levine analyzed more than 100 ads placed in 63 college newspapers to recruit egg donors. Of these ads, 21 specified a minimum requisite SAT score. Half offered more than $5,000, and among this group, 27 percent specified an "appearance requirement." The bigger the money, the choosier the client: Above the $10,000 level, most ads "contained appearance or ethnicity requirements." . . .


Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Fertility | Permalink

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