Thursday 8 November 2018

Have you considered using prices?

Talk about an elephant in the room.

Radio New Zealand's story on unregulated informal sperm donor networks is a great chronicle of what happens when you ban payments for sperm donors, without once mentioning that the whole thing is consequence of a ban on payments for sperm donors. It's like a murder mystery where all the facts are laid out, but nobody has figured out who the obvious killer is. It really is the butler! Why hasn't anyone arrested the butler!

What do we find in this story?
  • Waits at official fertility clinics of 18 months to two years (blamed in part on increased demand from single women);
  • High costs at fertility clinics: $300 for an initial consultation, donor's testing costs of $1500...
  • Men shunning clinics because donating at the clinic is costly to them: "The clinics, they just don't simplify the process. The donor has a life too. If I have to go through a clinic, I have to do a consultation and therapy and it takes six months to help one person. It's too much."
What don't we find in this story?

13 Commercial supply of human embryos or human gametes prohibited(1) No person may give or receive, or agree to give or receive, valuable consideration for the supply of a human embryo or human gamete.
(2) Every person commits an offence who contravenes subsection (1) and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 year or a fine not exceeding $100,000, or both.
If the clinics could pay the donors for the increased hassle they face in going through all of the rigamarole required for that process, supply would increase. If demand increased, clinics could up the offer price to encourage greater supply. There wouldn't be 18-month queues.

It isn't like not paying the donors saves the customers a lot of money. The clinics just get the money instead - though it is a puzzle that they haven't increased fees by even more: Simple AI is cited as (only) $1500 per cycle.

The article notes the risks in the informal sector (potential lack of disease testing, etc). Maybe, just maybe, if the clinics could pay the donor at least enough to cover the hassles they face in going to the clinic, things would change.


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