UNDERSTANDING EGG DONATION
Egg donation is a form of third party reproduction, a type of reproduction in which an individual or intended couple use a donor to help conceive and/or carry their child. Egg donation is usually done through a clinic and can help people conceive as a part of an assisted reproductive treatment. Typically, donated eggs are fertilized through in vitro fertilization (IVF) and then either implanted into a mother or surrogate’s uterus or frozen and stored for later use.
Egg donation is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In the United States, the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) has also issued guidelines for egg donation procedures, but IVF clinics that do not belong to ASRM and egg donation agencies may legally choose to override ASRM regulations and enact their own rules. Each egg donation facility or clinic may, therefore, have slightly different procedures which necessitate unique documentation from the recipient(s) and the donor.
PATHS TOWARD EGG DONATION
Individuals or couples come to egg donation from different backgrounds. For some women or couples, female infertility or low fertility can prevent eggs from generating a viable pregnancy. Lack of fertility can stem from a variety of factors, such as age, early onset menopause, genetic abnormalities, surgical removal of the ovaries, or disease. Even if the woman’s eggs might theoretically generate a pregnancy through in vitro fertilization (IVF), if the chances are low, intended parents will often choose to use an egg donor. Additionally, gay male couples often choose to take advantage of egg donation in order to have a child that is genetically related to one of the fathers.
TYPES OF EGG DONATION
Relationships between egg donors and the recipients can vary, depending on the wishes of the individuals involved. Egg donation usually occurs in one of three scenarios:
EGG DONATION THROUGH IVF CLINICS OR AGENCIES
In most cases, egg donation is done anonymously through an in vitro fertilization (IVF) clinic or egg donation agency. Some IVF clinics even institute regulations requiring the anonymity or semi-anonymity of their donors.
DIRECTED EGG DONATION
In some instances, the intended parents have a relationship with a family member, friend, or acquaintance who has decided to donate her eggs to the parents.
SHARED DONOR EGG PROGRAMS
Women or couples who are using IVF clinics to conceive their own children may decide to share their eggs with other individuals or couples. The egg recipients, in this case, will usually help offset the cost of egg donation, which can make the process more cost-effective for everyone involved.
LEGAL CONSIDERATIONS SURROUNDING EGG DONATION
As with any aspect of assisted reproductive technology, those considering egg donation should keep several legal considerations in mind. In order to create and protect parental rights, custody should be renounced by the egg donor and documented through legal contracts. In fact, in most cases, IVF treatments to extract the eggs will not be completed until the parties have agreed upon the terms of the donation and the Intended Parents’ attorney has signed a “clearance letter,” confirming this understanding between the parties.
In addition, the egg donor must typically sign an Egg Donor Contract before any procedure which lays out the donor’s responsibilities and the recipients’ rights to the eggs retrieved the embryos created with the eggs, and the future children created from the eggs. The Egg Donor Contract may also lay out specific regulations for any extra eggs or embryos that remain after an IVF treatment. In some cases, the donor and recipients may choose to donate these tissues to science; while, in other cases, the parties may choose to give the eggs or embryos to other infertile couples.
HOW AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP
An attorney who is experienced in the multi-faceted process of third party reproduction can help intended parents by ensuring that their legal bases are comprehensively covered. Since laws in each state surrounding assisted reproductive technologies can vary greatly, it is important to have someone in your corner who can educate you as to your rights and duties as an egg donation recipient. An attorney can help you draft and review contracts which ensure that an egg donor rescinds all rights to your future child, which can have far-reaching and important implications for your family’s future.
Attorney Corlandos Scott will work with you and your family during each step of the egg donation process, from drafting contracts for intended parents to writing or reviewing legal contract letters required by IVF clinics. For more information, call (818) 707-5236 or contact him online.