LONDON, May 17, 2012 ( – A pro-life group in the UK has condemned the practice of buying and selling the “ova” of university students, calling it exploitative of women, a “commodification of procreation,” and a violation of “international norms against the commercialisation of the human body, its tissues and organs.”

The Daily Mail recently broke the story that Cambridge students were being offered up to £750 for their oocytes by Altrui, described as an “egg broking company” based in Hawes, North Yorkshire.

The Mail reported that thousands of leaflets were left in student’s pigeonholes, but did not make clear that the message comes from a for-profit company.


Altrui told the Mail that there is a couple behind the campaign who had asked the company to help them distribute the leaflets at Cambridge.

The leaflets show a picture of the couple, and ask, “Would you help us start our family?”

“We long to be parents, but a rare genetic disorder that causes repeated miscarriages has prevented us. We are now looking for a real-life angel to be our egg donor.”

“We can imagine no greater gift than the chance to love a child.”

Altrui does not do IVF or related treatments directly, but acts as a middle-man for infertile couples seeking “donors,” and paying up to £1,300 for the service. British law allows for “compensation” to be made to people who “donate” their gametes – either oocytes or sperm – in a scheme that has been heavily criticized by pro-life advocates.

Anthony Ozimic, communications manager for the Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, said the practice of soliciting at universities, “exploits cash-strapped students at a formative time (late teens/early 20s) in their adult development and in their values, hopes and feelings about parenthood.”

It “serves the vested interests of the IVF industry, which puts profits and kudos above the welfare of patients,” he said.

Altrui responded in a statement, saying that it “completely stands by its ethical standards,” pointing out that the leaflets themselves did not mention anything about financial compensation for the “donation.” “Altrui do not entice or induce someone to be a donor,” the company said.

Altrui is only one tiny part of a massive international industry that has sprung up around the artificial procreation business, selling human tissue, often using the internet. The practice of soliciting university students for their gametes has also come under criticism in the U.S., particularly given the dangerous procedures, involving ovulation-increasing drugs, women have to undertake.

The Mail quoted Josephine Quintavalle of the campaign group Comment on Reproductive Ethics (CORE) who warned that underlying it the campaign is not only the legitimate desire of couples for a child, but the larger spectre of eugenics.

“This is not donation, this is the buying and selling of human eggs,” she said. “It raises the issue of eugenics because, just like in the States, students are being targeted because they have higher IQs. More brains equals better value.”