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February 26, 2014


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Professor Julie Shapiro

I think this payment structure (less money if no eggs) is somewhat unusual in the industry. At the very least I don't think it comports with the recommended standard.

My understanding (which may be imperfect) is that people (egg donors and sperm donors) get the money whether or not they produce usable gametes as long as they follow the protocols. This is consistent with characterizing the money as being for pain, etc. rather than for the gametes themselves.


There are still, of course, serious issues of commodification here--among other things I think the eggs/sperm are sometimes (perhaps even often) purchased by those who will be using them. Some of the issues are discussed here, though it's a couple of years old and has nothing to do with taxes.

Professor Julie Shapiro

One other thought, more responsive to your point. Perhaps the idea is that if no retrieval process is done, then the pain and suffering is less and hence, compensation diminished. The question is what would happen if they did the retrieval but, for whatever reasons, ended up with no eggs.

Darren Rosenblum

Bridget's comments really probe the complexities of what is the taxable event here. I agree with Julie that this is not necessarily the standard structure, but we really have little reason to know what the standard structure actually is.

Perhaps it's my Contracts prof side, but it seems to me that the taxable event relies on whatever the purpose of the contract is. Contracts may have multiple purposes of course, as some of the others have suggested, but it's hard to tease out what value is assigned to what aspect of the exchange. Food for thought, Contracts profs!

Professor Julie Shapiro

I've done a little bit more research on this--consulted with a number of lawyers who do contracts involving egg donors. It seems to me fairly clear that the deals are structured so that women are not offered money for their eggs per se.

It's common for the payments are staged--some amount at signing, some amount when she begins taking drugs and some about when the retrieval procedure is done. Under that system if the retrieval procedure isn't done, then that last payment isn't made. I think that's probably what the witness was trying to explain.

All the lawyers I communicated with said that if the procedure is done, full payment is owed even if no usable eggs are retrieved.

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