By Ejiro Umukoro
House of Representatives, on Tuesday, unveiled plans to conduct thorough investigation into cases of unethical and exploitative practices in egg procurement and surrogacy by fertility hospitals and clinics across the country.
The resolution was passed sequel to the adoption of a motion on the ‘Urgent need to curb the dangerous unethical practices and abuses associated with in assisted within assisted reproductive health technology in Nigeria’, sponsored by Chairman, House Committee on Defence, Hon. Babajimi Benson.
In his lead debate, Hon. Benson observed that the “utilization of Assisted Reproductive Techniques (ART) and referrals to fertility centers has witnessed a notable surge in Nigeria, especially since the advent of the new millennium.
“The House also notes that the fertility industry in Nigeria has emerged as a thriving industry estimated to be worth one billion dollars with several private and public hospitals across the country engaged in the practice.
“The House recognises that the practice is providing an alternative avenue for establishing pregnancies and parenthood.
“The House also recognise that Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) procedures entail the surgical extraction of eggs from a woman’s ovaries, their fusion with sperm in laboratory settings, and subsequent reintegration into the donor’s body or transfer to another woman or storage in an egg bank
“The House is concerned that these women undergo the surgical egg retrieval, relinquishing control over the eggs obtained. They are typically remunerated between N100,000 to N150,000 per retrieval, with as many as five to six eggs potentially extracted per month.
“The House is further concerned about the widespread practice of terming this process as ‘donation, while in reality, desperate women of childbearing age are coerced through targeted marketing to sell their eggs with potentially adverse effects on their future reproductive health and overall well-being.
“The House is alarmed by the fact that fertility centers have capitalised on the absence of a suitable regulatory framework to exploit providers/donors and potentially engage in the trade of donated eggs.
“The House is worried that if this trend is not checked immediately, there is possibility of a sharp rise in cases of infertility and cancer infections on the part of the young donors and surrogates as well as promoting the exploitative practices involved.”
To this end, the House directed its Committee on Health to conduct a thorough investigation into cases of unethical and exploitative practices in egg procurement and surrogacy by fertility hospitals and clinics and submit its findings to the House within a timeframe of four weeks.