Assisted reproductive technology ("ART"), including egg donation, is changing the topography of the American family. Heated debates and legislative battles over cloning and stem cell research reveal the complexity of the moral, scientific, and legal implications of emerging alternative reproductive methods. In fact, the field of reproductive medicine is the "Wild West" of the healthcare world where technological development is testing the boundaries of science and ethics. The legal and ethical issues intrinsic to the evolution of the egg donation industry are poised to become central topics of public debate as we, as a culture, reevaluate who and what constitutes a "parent" or "child," whether a human egg is a commodity, and what privacy and medical confidentiality mean relative to the right to know one's genetic make-up. Largely unregulated and untested in court, egg donation spawns a multitude of unanswered legal questions that will inevitably begin to emerge sometime very soon. Litigation in this field is looming. For lack of precedent, conclusions are reached by comparison to the analogous legal issues surrounding adoption, surrogacy, sperm donation, and blood donation, as well as the social trends implied by tangential precedent. Section I reviews the very limited history of litigation in which egg donation was a factor, the comparably scarce state and federal regulation of egg donation, and the case and statutory law covering analogous legal topics. Part II.A explores whether liability could attach under a product liability theory while Part II. B examines an egg donor’s potential liability for latent genetic disease inherited by the egg donation child under a negligence theory. Part III offers recommendations for regulating egg donation in order to prevent suits similar to those described in the comment. The comment argues that the burden of care should rest on the fertility clinic doctors and the egg donation agencies to properly screen egg donors.

Recommended Citation

Jayanti, Suriya E.P. "Guarantors of Our Genes: Are Egg Donors Liable for Latent Genetic Disease?" American University Law Review 58, no. 2 (December 2008): 405-457.