Detached markets in everything

by on October 1, 2011 at 12:43 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

Most egg donors, who have exactly the same genetic relationship to offspring as sperm donors, come to the opposite conclusion: they are not mothers.

That is from the new and interesting Sex Cells: The Medical Market for Eggs and Sperm, by Rene Alemling.

1 step21 October 1, 2011 at 12:47 pm

Maybe this is because normally w/o being pregnang they are never mothers. For males however there are a lot of situations where, without any traditional bond/relationship existing, both under law and social norm they are considered to be either a father or at least a person that has to pay alimony.

2 eddie October 1, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Sperm donors and fathers go through more-or-less the same experience to create children.

Egg donors and mothers do not.

3 Mike October 1, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Speak for yourself.

4 step21 October 1, 2011 at 2:25 pm

What eddie said ­čÖé

5 WTF October 1, 2011 at 2:54 pm

Women shrink from responsibility everywhere in life.

6 AC October 1, 2011 at 3:06 pm

This, too. Society is more comfortable with women declining responsibility than men behaving irresponsibly. (Note that you don’t have to believe that women are inherently more irresponsible to believe the above statement.)

7 Mike October 1, 2011 at 5:47 pm

Exactly. The hue and cry of feminists seems to be that they want women to have the right to be as stupid, irresponsible, and unhealthy as men have been. There is a general ratcheting down of morals and ethics.

8 chickabowwow October 2, 2011 at 12:05 am

Let me fix that for you:
“Exactly. The hue and cry of *libertarians* seems to be that they want women to have the right to be as stupid, irresponsible, and unhealthy as men have been. There is a general ratcheting down of morals and ethics.”

Anyways, where’s the declined responsibility? It’s an egg donor, not someone who dropped a baby off at the fire department. She’s being paid to *not* be responsible for the day-to-day well-being of whatever children her eggs will produce, and *to* be responsible for the number and quality of her eggs.

Unlike sperm donation or getting pregnant the traditional way (assuming fertility etc), egg donation isn’t exactly a walk in the park.

9 Mike October 2, 2011 at 5:01 pm

You’ve convinced me.

10 NAME REDACTED October 1, 2011 at 10:12 pm


11 Cahal October 2, 2011 at 7:24 am

Wow I feel like I’m reading reddit. What the hell is wrong with you people?

12 Mike October 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

Would you care to elaborate, or would you prefer to just moan and stomp your feet?

13 Cahal October 3, 2011 at 10:31 am

I could honestly say the same about your silly ‘mens rights’ posts. See here:

14 Peter Schaeffer October 1, 2011 at 3:21 pm

“Society is more comfortable with women declining responsibility than men behaving irresponsibly.”

I don’t know if I believe that. A man who abandons his kids is considered quasi-normal these days. A women who does the same thing is viewed as weird and strange.

Not saying I approve of any of this…

15 scineram October 1, 2011 at 3:49 pm

Are women who had abortion viewed weird and strange?

16 Peter Schaeffer October 1, 2011 at 5:40 pm

“Are women who have abortions viewed weird and strange?”

50 or 100 years ago, the answer would have been yes. These days by some to be sure. others not so much. However, a better question might be

“Are women who seek a third-trimester abortion of a presumably normal potential child though to be weird and strange?”

17 rudraksha October 3, 2011 at 5:22 am

May not be.rudraksha

18 Mike October 1, 2011 at 7:07 pm

A man who abandons his children is widely considered a criminal. A woman who does so is widely considered desperately heroic.

19 unblinkered October 2, 2011 at 5:00 am

This is beyond nonsense

20 Mike October 2, 2011 at 4:37 pm

A father who doesn’t support his children is hounded by the government for child support for at least 18 years. They can be thrown in jail and have their tax refunds confiscated. Paying child support is no guarantee the father will have visitation or equal custody rights. Women are granted custody far more often than men, even when evidence is demonstrable that the father is the better caregiver.

A mother who doesn’t support her children is offered welfare benefits, housing, food stamps, and other social assistance. Such assistance is increased as the number of children she doesn’t support increases.

You really don’t live in the real world, do you?

21 chickabowwow October 3, 2011 at 9:27 am

These are different situations. What you’re describing are two parents, one who keeps the kids, one who doesn’t.

I think unblinkered was thinking you were talking about comparing father that leaves vs mother that leaves, and there’s not much difference between the two.

A single father who keeps the kids but can’t support them is also offered welfare benefits etc. A mother who leaves is hounded for child support.

22 Nate October 1, 2011 at 3:31 pm

We could just call them fathers…

23 Sanjay October 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm

Technically it’s not the _same_ genetic relationship, in fact the egg donor is somewhat _more_ genetically related.

24 Mike October 1, 2011 at 6:01 pm

What are you talking about? Unless I missed some breakthrough in science, the male and female gametes are both haploid, contributing an equal number of chromosomes to produce a diploid zygote.

Recombination can shuffle alleles on homologous chromosomes, but there’s no research I’m aware of that shows these random changes favor the female alleles.

Random mutation also alters genes, but this too does not seem to favor the female contribution. The mass of the ovum relative to the sperm is irrelevant to genetic contributions.

25 Peter Schaeffer October 1, 2011 at 6:11 pm


Might be a reference to mtDNA

26 Mike October 1, 2011 at 6:35 pm

That’s true, but I’m not sure it supports the initial claim of being “more genetically related” except in the most esoteric and meaningless sense.

Since we all possess maternally inherited mtDNA, it is not a distinguishing factor. MtDNA also undergoes rapid mutation, so to say it’s ‘from the mother’ is a Ulyses’ Ship argument.

27 Mike October 1, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I meant the Ship of Theseus. Mixing up my Greek heroes.

mtDNA is not considered part of the human genome. Many scientists view the mitochondria as an endosymbiant, so it posseses a genome separate from the human genome.

Even if it were part of the human genome, a ring of mtDNA has 17kb while nuclear DNA has about 3 million kb. The additional contribution from the female is minuscule: 0.000567%. Variations in DNA from recombination and mutation are more significant.

As I said, esoteric and meaningless (except for rare cases of mitochondrial diseases)

28 Chris October 3, 2011 at 1:46 am

But it’s also worth noting that we inherit extra-genomic information from our mother that may be as important as the genome itself (i.e. all of the cell’s organelles).

29 Mike Kenny October 1, 2011 at 7:15 pm

An interesting idea–Bryan Caplan has encouraged libertarians to have more children because children of libertarians have a greater chance of being libertarian than the a person with non-libertarian parents, I guess. Maybe libertarians should intentionally donate their eggs and sperm, in the hopes of spreading some libertarian genes around, if you will. Maybe libertarians could pay other libertarians to donate their sperm to sperm banks, or donate their eggs, to incentivize such behavior. Here’s a blog post about a perhaps darker vision of propagating your genes:

30 NAME REDACTED October 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm


31 TW October 1, 2011 at 7:49 pm

Nice discussion space you have here, Tyler.

32 NAME REDACTED October 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

would be a shame if something where to befall it?

33 TW October 2, 2011 at 12:39 am

Shame what’s already befallen it.

34 revver October 1, 2011 at 10:16 pm

My associates and I would like to offer you protection.

35 chickabowwow October 2, 2011 at 12:14 am

The implication of the quotation seems to be that sperm donors consider themselves fathers?

Unless you personally know the recipients of your gametes, gamete donors tend not to know if they ever produced children as gamete donors. Anonymity and all that.

A college student could have cashed in his sperm a decade ago and have 16 children, and not be aware of the existence of any of them.
More naturally, a college student could have gone on a road trip and had lots of unprotected sex with various people, and have no clue whether or not his sperm donation generated any children.

36 TW October 2, 2011 at 12:40 am
37 chikabowwow October 2, 2011 at 9:52 pm

Yeah, I read that and some books on sperm donation…I just wanted it to be less mind boggling

38 YetanotherTom October 2, 2011 at 2:39 pm

I wonder if sterile men feel like fathers if their wives conceive with donor sperm? I’m not sure but my gut says no.

39 Mike October 2, 2011 at 4:59 pm

Experience tells me your gut is misleading you. Many men who marry women with children are more “fathers” than the men who sired the children. Why should a man who agreed to impregnated his wife with donated sperm feel any less like a father?

Maybe in antiquity, siring children was important to birthright, but in modern society, the guy who plays baseball with little Billy is the real father. It is true that many men reject or abuse the children from previous mating, but I think those same men would be abusive of their own children.

The greater question is whether barren women form a strong emotional attachment to adopted children or children from surrogates. I’m inclined to think there is a hormonal attachment of a mother to her own child that adds to the innate nurturing of motherhood. The difference would be marginal. Pre-existing (but unobserved) mental illness seems to be an aggravating factor in post-natal detachment disorders in women.

40 chikabowwow October 2, 2011 at 9:53 pm

just a thought: now we can actually verify birthright.

in antiquity, you just hoped.

41 YetanotherTom October 3, 2011 at 12:26 am

Mike is this issue personal to you? I could see myself feeling similar if I married a single mother or was sterile. That’s me personally and any decent man. I love kids.

But the Cinderella effect, linked below, makes me wonder about the general population.

42 IVV October 3, 2011 at 10:48 am

What will be more important in the future? Genetic or memetic propagation?

43 mravery October 3, 2011 at 9:29 am

Women have limited supplies of eggs. Donating them is equivalent to abdicating the responsibility for those unborn children. Men have an effectively unlimited supply of sperm. Donating has little effect on their own future prospects for procreation. The transaction is completely different in its implications to the donor.

Moreover, I would imagine a higher proportion of men donate with the goal of “passing on the genes” or having children without necessarily having the responsibility. I would imagine women have a higher propensity to donate with the explicit intent of helping women who cannot conceive on their own get children. That’s just speculation, but it seems that in popular culture’s depictions of sperm donation, the idea of helping an unnamed infertile man isn’t the driving force behind donation.

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