There’s a whole series of things which we might class as (and some indeed do do so) repugnant transactions. They’re not things which clearly breach someone else’s rights or liberties, not things which obviously do damage to non-participants, but rather things which have such huge “Eeeeew!” factors that people think it right that they should be banned. The current drive to make the purchase of sex illegal perhaps, driven as it seems to be by an insistence that this is just icky rather than any reasoned or reasonable logic.
Our system of regulating the market in haploid cells seems to suffer from a particularly bad case of what I regard as this form of hypocrisy.
Thousands of British women desperate to have a child are going abroad every year to have fertility treatment in order to avoid NHS waiting lists and a shortage of donated eggs……Couples here are able to exploit the fact that, in some countries, women who choose to donate eggs can be paid, said Culley, with some donors in America receiving up to $10,000. In Britain, by contrast, tight regulation of fertility means egg donors receive only expenses. “All the evidence is that cross-border reproductive care is growing. Women here do this for all sorts of reasons,” she said. “There is a serious shortage of eggs, donated sperm is in shorter supply than before, the cost can be cheaper abroad and some people want IVF which they can’t get on the NHS.”
Now perhaps this is indeed a repugnant transaction but that surely is something for the participants to decide, no? If they find it repugnant then there will be no transaction. But why if you or I find it repugnant then they should be banned from that transaction is something rather more difficult to justify.
It’s also entirely futile as in this modern world people can simply hop on Easyjet and organise it somewhere where the prejudices of British prodnoses hold no sway. As with the stories mentioned of eggs being used from impoverished Ukrainian women to create these designer babies: something which you might expect the British left to wholeheartedly approve of. For isn’t this we who are rich taking care of and raising the child of one less fortunate?
Consider the state the law is in in this area. It’s entirely legal to, although the reason to do so would be a little mysterious, pay a man to perform a hand shandy. it would be illegal for you to use the resultant haploid cells to create a pregnancy. It would be legal for you to create a pregnancy out of the results of such manipulation if no money changed hands. Which all seems extremely odd.
Not only is it odd, it leads to much fertility treatment being the province only of those with the money to escape our own dear NHS which is horribly handicapped by the rarity of those who will donate the necessary cells without the incentive of a cash payment.
The answer to all of this seems blindingly obvious. Ignore those who squeal that others are violating the squealers’ most closely held prejudices on what is not icky and, with the proviso that rights and liberties of others are not trampled in the process, allow individuals to decide for themselves what are and are not repugnant transactions.
If this might mean that people are paid for their eggs and their sperm then so be it: the joy and pleasure both of and from the children so engendered will outweigh the outrage. And once again prove that there are some things simply too important not to have markets in them.