LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) - The business of fertility is booming across the country. Sperm and egg donation offers someone with no hope of getting pregnant, the opportunity to see that dream come true. But with this overlap between life and science comes a fertility dilemma in Louisiana that has many people crossing state lines to avoid.
From college campuses to thousands of advertisements online and in newspapers - egg and sperm donors are being sought out. Dr. Steven Taylor with The Fertility Institute in New Orleans says, "Primarily medical students and graduate students become donors as a means of funding their educations."
The financial compensation lures many people to donate. For men passing all of the screenings, you're looking at $100 a pop. For women, an egg donation can range from about $5,000 up to $20,000. "Egg donation is very popular across the country," explains Dr. Taylor, "a very large percentage of women who have reached the age of 39 or 40, the biological clock has actually run out."
For many women with fertility problems, a donor egg is the only means to conceive. In 49 states, a woman can go through an in vitro fertilization procedure with an anonymous egg donor, carry the child and raise him or her as her own. But in Louisiana, the law is different.
"In Louisiana, we do have a restriction in that you cannot have a contracted egg donor," says Dr. Taylor. No pay in Louisiana for the services of a woman donating an egg, but there is compensation - sometimes several times a month - for a man donating sperm. "It does seem a little bit, in a sense, silly to limit paid egg donation when it's perfectly acceptable to have paid sperm donation," says Dr. Taylor.
Louisiana's law suggests that if a woman needs a donor egg, she must have a friend or relative willing to make the donation, with no exchange of money. Dr. John Storment with Fertility and Women's Health Center of LA says this scenario oftentimes forces women to seek treatment outside the state. "They send these patients out of state to other out-of-state donor banks," says Dr. Storment, "and then come back to Louisiana."
Drs. Storment and Taylor say this Louisiana law written in the 1980s might have been meant to protect women from undergoing an unnecessary medical procedure with potential side effects. But with the limitations it has placed on infertile couples in Louisiana, both fertility specialists say it's time to do some tweaking.
"I think perhaps the time has come for that to disappear," says Dr. Taylor.
"In Louisiana, if the law was a little bit more reasonable," says Dr. Storment, "if it was just amended, it would be much more fair for the women of Louisiana to allow that - it's not really doing anything different than what they're already doing now."