Today I discovered I am not allowed to be an egg donor.
I was considering it because I thought why not? I’m young, healthy and, as far as I know, fertile. I don’t need all my eggs and the thought of someone sharing 50% of my DNA coming to find me in 18 years’ time doesn’t bother me. So why not? It could help someone who was desperate for a child of their own and I am not naïve enough to think that everyone who wants a child and can’t have their own should just adopt, because it’s not that simple. I contacted Oxford fertility by email to find out if it was a possibility. I mentioned that I hadn’t had children, there’s a tiny risk of infertility following egg donation, so I wasn’t sure if that would count me out. I mentioned having Asperger syndrome.
It wasn’t the lack of children/potential infertility issue that ruled me out.
They cannot accept me as an egg donor because “there is a potential genetic link with Asperger syndrome.” Correct. Although the strength of heritability is questionable. Twin study concordance rates are all over the place. Sibling concordance rates are relatively tiny. Most autistic people have NT parents.
The lack of strong evidence that my eggs will produce autistic offspring isn’t the thing that bothers me most. What bothers me is that this is an issue. I am not against genetic screening. If I was the carrier of a disease which meant my potential offspring would have foreshortened, painful lives, I could completely understand the logic of being rejected for egg donation. But there is this double standard with autism. On the one hand, I am told it’s a difference, not a disability, that it should be ASC for ‘autism spectrum condition’ instead of ASD for ‘autism spectrum disorder’ because, I am told, I am not ‘disordered’. It’s funny, that the same institution, the NHS, which has told me this, is now telling me they can’t accept my eggs because my DNA might give my offspring a slightly higher chance of having this ‘difference’.
Which is it? A difference that should be celebrated, or a disorder so terrible that the risk of passing it on rules out an otherwise healthy person from egg donation?