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Egg Ad

Anna Behrens is 24 years old. Tall and slim, she is working toward her Ph.D. in art history at an Ivy League school. During her undergraduate years, Anna accumulated $27,000 in credit-card debt. In the fall of 2005, frustrated by her economic straits, Anna answered an advertisement in her university's magazine promising $25,000 to a "tall, athletic woman" willing to "give a gift of life and love." Anna visited the agent who had placed the ad, underwent medical tests at a fertility clinic, and met the couple that was searching for eggs. Through the agent, they offered her $20,000 plus medical expenses. Six weeks later, after 2 weeks of hormone injections, mood swings, and bloating, Anna returned to the clinic and had eight healthy oocytes removed. The couple took them, and Anna took her money. She will probably never know whether her eggs resulted in a successful pregnancy.

Encouraged, Anna went back to the agent in February 2006, offering to donate again. This time, as a "proven" donor, she received $22,000 from another couple, enough to eliminate her debt and...