The Truth About Fertility: How Much Is a Human Egg Worth?

Two women filed a lawsuit claiming fertility clinics set an unreasonable cap to a donated egg's value.
5:13 | 07/28/15

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Transcript for The Truth About Fertility: How Much Is a Human Egg Worth?
Time now for the "Heat index" and this morning's hot button. How much is a human egg worth? That question the center of a federal lawsuit brought by two women fighting price limits they think are unfair. It's a story we first saw in "The Wall Street journal" and Deborah Roberts here with more. Good morning. We've all heard about sperm banks and how men can make quick cash for their donations but what about women offering up their eggs? It's a complicated possess involving hormone shots and an these Ya so some are asking is it right to put a price limit on it? 30-year-old Katie O'Reilly is one of thousands of women would donated her eggs to help others start a family. My initial reason for donating was financial. Reporter: She was paid $8,000 but says it was far from easy. I got very, very bloated. I was also very exhausted all the time. I experienced fainting spells and I was in severe abdominal pain. Reporter: The process has O'Reilly and others asking, who controls the price of a human egg? That question at the center of a lawsuit filed by two women on behalf of all egg donors claiming fertility clinics have capped the value. The society for assisted pro-productive technology and American society of reproductive medicine that set the standard. Anything more than $5,000 requires justification, they say, and more than $10,000 isn't appropriate. The lawyer in the lawsuit calls that naked, illegal price-fixing saying those regulations leave donors deprived of the benefit of free and open competition? Because it's my body, it should be my decision what I choose to get for compensation for something like that. I think that having a price cap is a bit arbitrary. Reporter: Gina-marie happily donated her eggs four times but thinks she should have set her own price. By me becoming an egg donor and helping the intended parents achieve their goals of having a family they helped me achieve my dreams for setting myself up for the life I always wanted. Reporter: She isn't complaining about the $38,000 she banked for her eggs. It helped put her through law school. What if choosy families had been willing to pay her more given her intelligence. Some worry we open the door to desperate women selling their eggs to the highest bidder or putting their health at risk to make money interest their genetic material all things that will probably come out in this lawsuit. George. A lot of issues to work through. Deborah, thanks so much. We're joined by Dr. Jen Ashton and Dan Abrams is back. Walk us through the process of donation. Medically this is a very extend tiff process. The first thing a woman considering donating her eggs has to go through is a general medical evaluation. Make sure she's healthy enough to go through it then we suppress the donor's ovarian function so we can override that, take control then stimulate they are ovaries with daily injections of hormones then there's monitoring with ultrasound, sonograms to know when you're going to retrieve those eggs and then the egg retrieval process involves an these Ya, risks of bleeding, infection, damaged internal organs with a very long needle. Takes three to five weeks? We heard one woman, $38,000 for her eggs. How is the price set? When you talk about donating eggs versus sperm, it's not apples to apples. When the talk about the sperm donation it's based on an hourly rate so men are paid $60 to $75 an hour and they have estimated that women take about 56 hours to go through this entire process so they arrive at a price of $4,000. These are not equivalent processes. Men, first of all, can donate 2 million sperm at a pop. Women are born with 300 eggs that they off late over their reproductive lifetime. Dan, I know these egg donation prices are just guidelines so where does a lawsuit come? No specific legal caps. The clinics are signing up agreeing to abide by these particular guidelines. This a pretty strong lawsuit. I mean, when you think about the fact that the purpose of the law, right, the antitrust law is to say that businesses, entities, covertly or overtly, can't get together and agree on particular prices, and generally it's an effort to increase prices not bring down prices. But I think that here you can make a very good argument, "A," when the price is capped on the women, well, is the price capped then on the clinics? And secondly, another I think interesting response to this argument of, well, you know, women desperate women are going to do this when they shouldn't. What about the difference between a woman makes $30,000 a year an a woman who makes $300,000 a year. That $5,000 is going to mean a lot less to someone who makes 300,000 so are we going to start evaluating how much money they make in assessing how much they're allowed to sell their eggs for? It's pretty strong moving forward? We'll look at it. Dan, thanks very much. Jen, you'll take questions on Twitter all morning. Yes.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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