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An Offensive Advertisement

I was frankly appalled after opening to page 20 of the October 1 issue of your paper to continue reading what seemed an important article on a drugs pamphlet, only to find a very large two-color ad for egg donors decorated with a baby carriage. It is hard to say what offended me more: the presence of the ad in an MIT student publication, or its wording.

There are many aspects of egg donation that are highly questionable and in my opinion ethically disturbing. The essential transaction itself, which involves the selling of a fundamental building block of human life is admittedly not new; it is part of a fast-growing industry along with such other procedures as sperm donation, surrogate pregnancy, and other techniques that involve the transfer of other people’s genetic material to infertile couples. I have had problems with both the legality and morality of these procedures for some time. The costs and risks involved in egg donation raise the stakes even further.

While the procedure is legal -- and thus running the ad is perfectly within your rights -- many gray areas remain, including those concerning the rights of the parties involved. Far from being enlightened and progressive, egg donation could arguably be viewed as the exploitation of low-paid women, encouraging them to undergo a protracted and often painful procedure which could easily cause permanent damage to their bodies in exchange for a high sum of money.

For the millions of living, breathing children around the world who are in need of parents, this way of helping infertile couples -- the processing and manufacturing of babies to order -- only further diminishes their chances. Obtaining half a prospective baby in the form of an egg involves just as much if not more unknowns (despite the screening process) as adoption.

Moreover, the terms of the ad, which appeals only to women who are highly intelligent (measured in SAT scores), physically fit, and have a healthy “lifestyle” to be “compassionate” (to the tune of $50,000?), are offensive and disturbing to me personally, and doubtless others like myself who fit into the desired categories. I find it offensive to be regarded as a source of supply for the acquisition of wealthy people, who do not consider being compassionate themselves to one of the millions of already-made children out there in need of adoption.

And having just returned to campus from nine years living in Germany -- genetic engineering is only one area of its Nazi legacy -- I need hardly explain what kind of disturbing associations this wording evokes. Granted, the ad was generous enough to include “all hair and eye coloring”. How tolerant.

Clearly it is your right to decide which advertisers to run. However, I would have thought The Tech would be more careful about giving so much space to such a problematic undertaking. To regard it as progressive would be an arrogant misconception.

Francesca Rogier G