Women could be paid up to £800 for donating their eggs to fertility clinics under a controversial new proposal from the UK’s fertility regulator.
The proposal is one of a number of options being considered by the Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA) in an attempt to address a current shortage of egg and sperm donors.
However, critics have warned that the proposal neglects the risks associated with donation.
Under current regulations egg and sperm donors can get up to £250 compensation for loss of earnings and expenses.
Josephine Quintavalle, from Comment on Reproductive Ethics, said: “We would be absolutely outraged if the HFEA increases the payment limits above £250.
“It’s totally looking at the issue from the perspective of infertile couples who need eggs and will pay anything for them, and not from the perspective of the healthy woman they are trying to persuade to donate her eggs, and the risks she would incur by donating.”
But Lisa Jardine, head of the HFEA, suggested that the UK should move towards the Spanish system which currently pays donors £800.
She said: “We want to review egg donation.
“We are suggesting moving closer to the Spanish system. But there is no suggestion of adopting the US model where a good-looking girl with a degree can get $30,000 for her eggs.”
The HFEA is also considering allowing a sperm donor to father up to 20 children, twice the current limit.
A report is due to go to the HFEA executive next month, and public consultation will follow in January.
Last month it was revealed that the HFEA is set to be scrapped by the Government before the next General Election as part of moves to slim down public spending.
The Government said that the HFEA, which has been in existence since 1991, would continue in its current state for the moment but its functions will be moved to other bodies.
The HFEA came under fire in 2008 for sanctioning animal-human embryo research before Parliament had legislated for it.
And earlier this year the HFEA faced criticism over publishing a list of 116 genetic conditions for which doctors can destroy IVF embryos without seeking special permission.