Automatically translated from Basque, translation may contain errors. More information here. Elhuyarren itzultzaile automatikoaren logoa

"There is a direct link between difficulties in accessing the precarious world of work and the decision to donate eggs"

  • Did you know that there are people who do a big business in the Spanish state with egg donation, which is the head of Europe? I didn't know. Thanks to anthropologist Anna Molas I have recently discovered in the “No)Maternities from the Feminist Perspective” organized by the Emagin association. After the speech I asked Molas a few questions to go deeper into the subject.
Argazkia: Dani Blanco
Argazkia: Dani Blanco

You have investigated in your thesis the bioeconomics of ovarian donation of the Spanish State. How did the issue start working?
He was doing a master's degree in anthropology at the university of Barcelona, had to choose the theme of the thesis and sought work at the same time. During the studies I have always worked, like many others. I was registered on a website called Laboris and I was sent offers according to my resume. Once I got a message, the topic said: Egg donation, compensation [last word in capital letters]. It affected me a lot. I knew that the donation existed and paid money, but that something like this came from a job site, at a time when I needed work ... I got angry and had a bird. The ones from Laboris answered that it was not a job offer, but an advertising, but of course, that advertising came to me because I was a woman in some parameters. It was the goal of that advertising, and it made me think a lot. Everyone who got that message came to mind. He had the theme of the thesis.

It is a very significant fact. And it matches what you've discovered in your study.
Yes, absolutely. In this area, the altruistic discourse has some functions, but the question of economic need arises as soon as possible [clinics pay about 1,000 euros for a donation].

In fact, it has collected experiences from egg donors. What exactly did I want to study? The
question of my thesis was how is all this organized so that there are so many donations in Spain and Spain is the main fertility industry in Europe? What's going on? On the one hand, I interviewed egg donors and on the other hand, fertility clinic workers. In addition, I made observations at some clinics and studied their websites: what they explained, what not, what image they gave of the procedure... In short, how is everything orchestrated to make this bioeconomy foam?

The truth is that I was surprised by the size of the industry. 18,000 people come to the Spanish State every year for egg donations from other countries. What factors influence this? Firstly, on the European continent, Spain has one of the most lax laws related to assisted reproduction: there is no age limit for egg collection (there is a limit in public health, but the law does not require it), and in private, for example, women aged 50
are being treated and pregnancies are being achieved. Moreover, in Spain there are many egg donors. Why? Because, among other things, donation is anonymous, unlike many other countries. This increases the number of donors and many recipients prefer the donation to be anonymous.

Photo: Dani Blanco
"In Spain there are many egg donors. Why? Well, among other things, because donation is anonymous, unlike many other countries.”

How did he find ovulants?
I knew clinics didn't help me. I tried it and it seemed we would get it once, but it didn't end up.

Do clinics don't want donors to talk?
That too. But inside clinics, donors are a precious thing, and they don't want to bother enough, they've repeated it to me many times. Of course, clinics are also afraid of losing prestige.

Therefore, she sought the interviewees on her own. Was it hard to encourage people?
I put posters in different parts of the city and opened the call through social media. From there, people saw me and wrote the listing. I didn't know them in advance, and I find it significant because a lot of people wanted to talk. So I found the 26 respondents.

There will be different profiles among donors, but the economic need weighs heavily.

Economic remuneration can be attractive to many people, and in this respect there is diversity among donors. In other words, some donors are in a precarious situation, but perhaps at some point they could be supported by someone. In other cases, situations are very precarious. And then there is the source factor: 25% of donors are not of Spanish origin, and that is also an important issue. In any case, there is a direct relationship between difficulties in accessing the precarious world of work and the decision to donate eggs, which has been made clear in my research.

He also highlighted the youth factor.
Data indicate that most people who give the egg are between 18 and 24 years old. There are many vulnerable sectors, but young people are a very vulnerable population, for example, if you look at unemployment data and access to employment. At the time of the crisis in 2008 it was very clear, but I believe that we need to reflect on the situation of young people. And take seriously the state of people who donate eggs in general.

Let us deal with authorisation.
Today, when it comes to authorizing egg donation, and for it to be informed consent, there is a big problem: very few long-term research has been done on the possible consequences of this type of process. And you'd have to have a lot more information, because it's a very standardized practice, and about 15,000 people a year do. Therefore, if there are no studies on the long-term consequences, you cannot be informed. It seems that egg donation does not pose a risk: it is true that clinics are currently under control of the risks that may arise immediately after the procedure, but we do not know what happens from there. Work on this topic has begun in the US and several researchers have pointed out that there are indications to suspect ovarian donation and the association of certain types of cancer. This is very important, because there are people who have done these cycles 20 times, legally you can't, but it's happened.

Another hurdle is misinformation, right?
Yes, it is important to note that many donors do not know what will happen after donating eggs. Many do not know how many eggs they have taken out or how many people will be served with a single donation... Customers can find how much they pay on the internet, but many do not know that there is an international egg market. In other words, they do not know the commercial dimension of the account. I think it is also important. The clinics will not provide this information to donors, but will indicate whether they have been able to help someone see if a pregnancy has occurred thanks to the administered eggs. These support narratives are reinforced and everything related to the commercial part is discarded, so that the donor is not an agent and, for example, will not demand more money.

How many times can eggs be given by law?State law
does not limit the number of donations, but the number of children who can leave a person: six. But this law is 2006 and not very clear. Many things happen in practice. The first law on assisted reproduction dates back to 1988 and already mentioned the need for a national donor register. For reasons, the pilot test of the first national registry was not started until 2019. So the clinics define the number of donations, six per person. But then people could go to another clinic and do another six, saying they hadn't done any. Lately I haven't done field work and I don't know how they work with the registration account.

In addition to the interviews, she has also made observations in the clinics. What did you find? I
was also interested in the relationship between donor and clinic, how it was managed at a practical level. What did I see? That donors were very important to the clinic, even that they were the most important element because that treatment is the one that gives them the most money. With this I would not like to imply that individual hospital workers do not care about these women, who often try to adapt to their needs and others. But in the case of business, it's very important to have donors and to have donors develop the cycle to the end. As the workers explained to me, it was common for donors not to complete the process or to disappear in the middle of it. There are mechanisms to avoid this in clinics.

For example, when donors
approach the clinic for the first time, the clinic tries to do its best the day. Because if the potential donor has come in search of information and has to come back on his own next time, he may not come again. Therefore, on many occasions, in the first informative meeting consent is signed, the documentation is given to them, and since they cannot be taken home, because it must be signed at the moment. They're also trying, if possible, to run some tests -- blood tests, ultrasounds -- so that that person has to look again for results. It's a way to relate to the process.

And with the money?
Compensation is always conditional. You may have started with the process, even with injections, and yet you are not sure that you will receive money. It depends on the person's behavior during the cycle. For example, if a person fails appointments, they tell them they may be reduced or not paid. On the other hand, it should be noted that in the consent of donors there is a clause stating that if for non-medical reasons the process is interrupted, if it is to be suspended for “negligence” or “bad faith” of donors, the clinic should return the money spent so far. Clinics have told me they've never done it, because if it doesn't make sense, given that donors are there for money, but, well, it's a clear measure of coercion.

Photography: Dani Blanco

"In EE.UU. A number of researchers have pointed out that there are signs of ovarian donation and linkage between certain types of cancer."

Would you like to talk about
clinical practices?The above are control measures, but there is another layer that concerns donor custody. That was repeated many times: we have to take care of donors, if they are not going to go to another clinic. For clinics, the best indicator of success was for a donor to recommend a friendly clinic. In this sense, they have staff from other profiles, outside the medical field, which deals exclusively with communication with donors. They are always women, usually young, trying to get a certain sense of closeness. And, for example, because there are many donors of Russian origin, they have translators.

Donors and recipients are not in the same space, right?
No. According to the clinics, the reason was that they did not judge each other, because it is clear who is who. In addition, clinics sometimes don't want recipients to see donors. There is a class issue trying to hide.

So would I recommend?
In my opinion I did not propose a political recommendation as a conclusion, but I can give my opinion. The truth is, I have a rather pessimistic view of what can be done. I do not think that anything can be done, but the industry around it is so large, I do not know to what extent it could be organised differently.

Would eliminating donor anonymity be a step?
It is an important factor. Anonymity allows a lot of things, and if it were cancelled, a lot of things would change, because that invisibility of donors would not be possible.

And then? If some things changed, I think it would
be for the good of donors – and, although we have not mentioned it so far, also for those who are going to be born – the number of donations would also decrease, and the speed of the processes, as has happened in other countries. So they would create waiting lists again, and maybe a lot of people couldn't get what they want. But I think we have to take the reflection further back. We must reflect on how we are managing the problems that arise in relation to the existence of children.


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