A Scottish fertility clinic has been branded “irresponsible” and “exploitative” for allowing Scottish women to buy human eggs abroad.
British law currently bans the selling of human eggs, and requires all donors to be traceable by any future children.
But now an IVF clinic based in Glasgow is set to bypass these laws by teaming up with a fertility clinic in Spain where the fertility laws are weaker.
Dr Calum MacKellar, from the Scottish Council for Human Bioethics, said: “This clinic should not be encouraging people to bypass British law. It’s irresponsible. We consider the Spanish system exploitative.”
Many of the people who donate their eggs in Spain are impoverished students and migrant workers from Eastern Europe.
The scheme is being operated by the Glasgow Centre for Reproductive Medicine (GCRM) in collaboration with Spanish firm IVI Valencia.
The service will allow couples to pay £8,500 for the IVF treatment, which includes a £750 fee for the egg donor.
In Britain egg donors can only receive ‘reasonable expenses’ for traveling and loss of earnings up to the value of £250 per cycle.
While initial tests and scans will be conducted in Scotland, the actual implantation of the fertilised egg will be carried out in the Spanish clinic to get around British law.
Dr Marco Gaudoin, medical director of the GCRM, attempted to defend the scheme saying: “Spain has two things we don’t – they pay their donors and there is anonymity.
“Because they can pay donors they get younger donors going through university with excellent quality eggs. That’s the university term fees paid for. It’s a commercial enterprise.”
But Peter Kearney, a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Church, said: “There is nothing reputable about turning human life into a commodity to be bought and sold.
“Those involved in this selfish trade have no concerns for the welfare of any children so conceived.”
And Olivia Montuschi, of the Donor Conception Network, warned that not knowing the identity of their donor parents could be “significantly distressing” for some of the children born.
She added: “People have the right to know who contributed half of their genetic make-up.”
Foreign fertility clinics have previously been used by British couples seeking to get around the law.
Earlier this week it was revealed that a fertility clinic in London was holding a raffle to win a human egg.
The raffle is an attempt to advertise the clinics fertility treatments in the US where eggs can be purchased anonymously.
In 2008 it was revealed that foreign fertility clinics are offering British couples an illegal screening test to allow them to choose the sex of their next child.
A BBC investigation revealed that a Turkish clinic was sending representatives to Britain to market the procedure, which is illegal both in Britain and Turkey.