The buying and selling of human eggs is illegal in Australia—but that hasn’t prevented one agency from working around it. ABC News is reporting that Known Egg Donors, a Brisbane based company, recently brought a woman in from South Africa to “donate” her eggs for a local couple.

Sadly, this is a familiar tale—those desperate to work around laws in order to profit from the infertility market risk putting women’s health at risk along the way. When reading of this new case, I couldn’t help but to marvel at the lengths to which one agency would go in bringing in someone from South Africa to Australia—over 6,000 miles away—just to poach her eggs. Along with couples arranging for surrogates in Nepal, Cambodia, or Thailand to carry children on their behalf, we’ve truly turned the body into a commodity.

Simply put, the enterprise of reproductive technology is biological colonialism in action—where the poor are forced to sell their parts (eggs or wombs) for the rich: those in Australia, Canada, the United States, or other parts of the western world—to profit and benefit from at their expense. It’s exploitative, coercive, and wrong. But there’s big money to be made off it and so we disguise it as “participating in the miracle of human life.”

If the twentieth century was marked as the “human rights century”—a time where new advances were made to enumerate rights of individuals and the duties of nations to uphold them—thanks to reproductive technology, the 21st century is providing all sorts of ways to undo such progress.

Image by lukeprice88 via flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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Christopher White, Ramsey Institute Project Director