University of Arkansas at Little Rock Law Review


Kitty L. Cone

Document Type



Rapid expansion of technology in medicine over the last few decades has both enhanced our lives and complicated our laws. For example, thanks to advances in science and medicine, couples who were previously unable to reproduce are now able to do so with the help of donors, medical personnel, and a host of other middlemen facilitating the process. The growth of medical technology has also lead to the advent of using human eggs for medical research. However, despite competing for eggs from a small pool of willing donors, there is a disparity in the law between the treatment of human egg donation for reproduction purposes and human egg donation for research purposes (stem-cell research and human cloning). Similarly, egg donors for reproductive purposes may earn a substantial profit for their "donations," but donors for research generally are not compensated. This disparity is the result of legislation reflecting refusal by the public to make allowance for payment for eggs used for research because human embryos are often manipulated and destroyed by the research process.

The public disapproval of human cloning and stem cell research has resulted in ill advised state and national legislation which provides bad actors the ability to treat both donors and recipients of donor eggs unethically. Recent research has revealed serious medical risks involved in harvesting human eggs. These risks have lead the medical community to question whether donors are truly able to give informed consent to donation. Nevertheless, few states have enacted legislation to protect egg donors, and there are no systematic regulations in place to ensure that donors and recipients are truly aware of the risks involved in egg harvesting procedures. Compounding these concerns, clinics often outsource recruitment of donors to independent egg brokers who are not subject to ethical guidelines, thereby enabling clinics using the brokers to avoid regulations without being tainted by unethical activity.

This article argues that comprehensive legislation is needed in the United States to protect women from exploitation in the procurement of human eggs used for research and reproductive purposes. The article begins by discussing Assisted Reproductive Technology in general, and then presents a summary of the current inadequacy of legislation regarding eggs used for research and reproductive purposes in all fifty states. Next, the article examines possible legislative solutions to the problem and offers recommendations. The article concludes that comprehensive legislation is the only way to address abuse resulting from the exploitation of the current lack of legislation that has made performing risky procedures on women who are unaware of the long-term risks into a lucrative business.