A Form of Discrimination I Hadn't Heard Much About:

An acquaintance of mine (whom I've always found quite reliable) reports that when she sought out an egg donor, one candidate donor — a woman who was past the age of majority, and in fact in graduate school — was disqualified by the agency involved because she was ... a virgin. The theory, I take it, is that somehow the lack of sexual experience made it harder to maturely make the egg donation decision, though that sounds pretty odd to me. (The acquaintance stressed that the disqualification was the agency's choice, not her own.)

Perhaps there was something lost in the translation, but, as I said, my source was quite credible. Nothing illegal here, just interesting.

steve k:
All sorts of discrimination goes into choosing egg donors. Perhaps the same thing happens in choosing a mate, but it's rarely so regimented.

You can see ads in The Daily Bruin where buyers list what they want. The top payments generally go to women who are young, tall, goodlooking and intelligent. Often specific ages, heights and SAT scores are required.
8.16.2006 5:51pm
MDJD2B (mail):
I know of no reason why her lack of sexual experienceshould be a problem. Egg donation is not an entirely safe procedure. Recovery of the eggs typically is done under anesthesia by inserting a needle through the vagina to the ovaries under ultrasound guidance. Furthermore, there are rare complications that can result in loss of reproductive organs or even death (I won't get any more graphic). There may be some physical and psychological screening that goes into the selection of donors. But I'm not aware that prior sexual activity should be an issue.
8.16.2006 5:53pm
Nick (www):
Isn't it interesting in an age where so many people are trying to convince young men and women that the mature decision is abstinence, that this person decided that abstinance was immature.
8.16.2006 5:59pm
Houston Lawyer:
I'm assuming her virginity refers to sex with a man.

I'd be stunned to find out that sperm donors were excluded on the same basis.
8.16.2006 6:11pm
Philistine (mail):

I'd be stunned to find out that sperm donors were excluded on the same basis.

As noted by MDJD2B, the medical risk from egg donation is orders of magnitude over that of sperm donation.

AIUI, most egg-donation agencies require a pscyhological evaluation of the prospective donor to, among other things, confirm that she is likely to follow through with the process--which can take several months from start to finish.

It's possible that the agency had other reasons to doubt her maturity or ability to stay with the program, and chose to rely on "virginity" (information the recipient presumably already knew?) rather than reporting unfavorable psychological information.

Or, it's possible they really do have a "virginity is a contraindication to maturity" policy, but the first seems more likley to me.
8.16.2006 6:27pm
steve k,
All of those things have some relevance. People want tall, good looking and intelligent kids. Perhaps some are trying to match one of the partners. Age also might have an effect on the viability of the eggs.
Unless mature virginity has a physical component that people may want to avoid, I don't see how it is relevant.
Also, I believe the point was not hearing of this very specific form of descrimination (ie virgin egg donors), as opposed to not having heard of any discrimination wrt egg donations.
8.16.2006 6:33pm
Houston Lawyer:
I believe the risk is the same to virgins and nonvirgins alike. A more relevant question would be whether the woman had previously had children. If so, the risk to her future child bearing wouldn't be so severe.

I agree it's likely a dodge and the real answer lies somewhere else.
8.16.2006 6:46pm
Freddy Hill (mail):

As noted by MDJD2B, the medical risk from egg donation is orders of magnitude over that of sperm donation.

But you can go blind!
8.16.2006 6:57pm
Rachel (mail):
It may actually be medically legitimate to exclude virgins. I would guess that it is very difficult to thread the extraction needle through an intact hymen. I suppose that the doctor could break the hymen, but that would make the procedure more painful, and the blood might make it more difficult for him.
8.16.2006 7:11pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
People want tall, good looking and intelligent kids. Perhaps some are trying to match one of the partners.

And these two desires are most likely mutually exclusive.
8.16.2006 7:12pm
Ian Argent (mail):
Maybe they don't want to damage the hymen?
8.16.2006 7:16pm
Student (mail):
Clearly religious. They want to avoid creating a virgin mother.
8.16.2006 7:18pm
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
There is also discrimination of some types in male sperm donation. For example perfectly fit donors with cerebral palsy can't be sperm donors. Not because their sperm is unfit but because holding the magazine and hitting the little cup all at the same time just takes way too many tries.

Says the "Dog"
8.16.2006 7:20pm
David C,
I suppose you were going for '+1 Funny', as I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.
I don't believe many people are getting donor eggs because they don't care for the height, looks or the intelligence of their partner. 'Designer donees' sounds worse to me than 'virginal conception'.
8.16.2006 7:20pm
frankcross (mail):
Perhaps they thought this proved she was a liar.
8.16.2006 7:27pm
Jacob (mail):
I'm obviously grasping at straws here, and definitely don't have the medical background to imagine how this scenario would play out...but could this be a liability issue? If something goes wrong during the procedure, could a virgin somehow have a higher claim (or better basis for a claim) against the clinic and agency? I can see why they'd be loathe to take that on, if it were somehow a possibility.
8.16.2006 7:36pm
Michelle Dulak Thomson (mail):
I think something really must have been lost in translation here. I've never heard of an ovum donor being turned down for virginity; but every advertisement I have ever seen for ovum donors has stressed that previous successful pregnancy is a requirement. The idea is to screen out women whose ova are genetically defective in a way that causes them not to be able to carry to term. Asking whether they ever have carried to term is a very crude way of addressing the question, but if the supply of potential donors is large enough, it's probably more efficient than would be putting every candidate through a series of genetic tests.
8.16.2006 8:04pm
I wonder if someone can suffer psychologically years down the road if her virginity is lost (at least to some extent) in an unnatural way.
8.16.2006 8:08pm
HelenT. (mail):
Rachael and Ian,

An ObGyn examination would have shown if the woman had the rare kind of hymen which could cause pain during ObGyn activity. Many women don't have hymens, and of those women who do, many will have either/both of stretching from exercises or natural elasticity.

Pain or blood during first intercourse is often the unfortunate result of insufficient women's arousal. Sufficiently aroused women can have sex for years while still having a hymen.
8.16.2006 9:35pm
Kevin L. Connors (mail) (www):
I would think anyone who wished to follow-up on this could contact a few clinics for comment. I am intrigued enough to do so, had I the time. It might make a salable article.

BTW: LOL @ Dog.
8.16.2006 9:45pm
David Chesler (mail) (www):
I don't see how they are mutually exclusive.

Congratulations on your tall, good-looking, intelligent partner; and congratulations to your partner for achieving the same in you. Most people, if they went for a donor egg from someone who looks like their partners would find the donor, like their partners (and themselves), less than perfect.
8.16.2006 10:18pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
But you can go blind!

Naw, just keep donating till you get a little nearsighted. I tried to volunteer, but the clinic said nobody wants the genetics of a bald whackoff.

Puts me in mind of the hilarious movie, title something like the Secret Life of Sherlock Holmes. It opens with Holmes being addressed, thru a translator, by a Russian diva. She wishes his services, she is trying to find the father of her child. He responds he would be happy to track him down. No, comes the reply, the child is not yet born, nor conceived. She wishes her child to be beautiful and intelligent. She is beautiful. And you, Mr. Holmes, are intelligent. Well?....
8.17.2006 12:08am
JunkYardLawDog (mail):
Helen T

Sufficiently aroused women can have sex for years while still having a hymen.

Yeah, but only if all their partners are Asian, and absolutely no black guys under any circumstances.

Says the "Dog"
8.17.2006 12:12am
Supposedly, the celebrated dancer Isadora Duncan once said to George Bernard Shaw declaring that, given the principles of eugenics, they should have a child together.

"Think of it!" she told him. "With my body and your brains, what a wonder it would be."

"Yes," Shaw replied. "But what if it had my body and your brains?"
8.17.2006 12:41am
David C,
I see where you are going with that, however I was merely suggesting why someone might want this, that or the other feature, not that donees match each one of my suggestions.
To put it less tactfully, I believe most donees are doing it because they can't have a baby any other way. When you are at that point, you then decide whether you want to try to give your possible offspring a better chance to be tall, good looking and intelligent. Or, you could decide it is best if the child looks like their parents so everybody will have less questions.
I wouldn't bet against someone deciding they want a beautiful child for once after having not so beautiful ones, but I am pretty sure that vanity babies aren't common.
8.17.2006 1:08am
It is preferred that egg donors are young women of proven fertility. The typical "elite" egg donor, such as a Stanford undergraduate student, typically has had an abortion. Thus she has proven fertility and is not a virgin. In the recent past, Asian and Jewish donors received $20,000 for the eggs and other caucasians about $10,000 - if they had the requisite SAT's, athletic abilities etc.
8.17.2006 1:23am
Obvious Truth (mail):
Unless mature virginity has a physical component that people may want to avoid, I don't see how it is relevant.

I know of no mature virgins who are not hidesouly ugly and do not lack some sort of mental disorder. That, of course, is the reason they are old and still virgins. I don't want my kids to be hideously ugly mental-cases, which is why I would reject a virgin egg-donor over the age of majority.
8.17.2006 2:22am
Are you talking about women over the age of 18 being old and ugly and mentally off if they are virgins. That is just not true. There are more virgins out there than some believe. Not all women think that sex is a liberating act. Espically today just the opposite is liberating. The ability to say NO takes alot more intelligence and self confidence today than going with the group think crowd.
8.17.2006 2:45am
markm (mail):
Malvioli 8.16.2006 11:41pm: Thereby, Shaw proved that it is possible to be quite witty and incredibly stupid at the same time.
8.17.2006 12:54pm
nc_litigator (mail):
ha ha. i knew the comments would be a race to the bottom on this post. thanks, the "dog."

if eugene's understanding of the reason for the donor's denial is correct, simply sounds like a company rationally trying to limit its potential liability.
8.17.2006 1:46pm