Would You Buy This Woman’s Eggs?
Santa Cruz egg donor Raquel Cool is making a living selling her eggs. In her upcoming art installation Live Nude Eggs, she invites others to experience the human ovum trade through the lens of an egg donor. Cool began undergoing the lengthy procedure to sell her eggs in 2011. So far she has sold 30 eggs and is currently registered as a donor in the Bay Area.
The projected gross revenue of the U.S. fertility industry in 2013 is 4.26 billion, according to Harper’s Index. While In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) is banned in many countries, the U.S. is among the few that allows compensation for egg donations intended for conception. Compensation for oocytes donated stem cell research is banned in the U.S. Since eggs may be trafficked to countries where IVF is banned, California upholds a global reputation for providing fertility services to an international clientele.
"At 27, my reproductive abilities statistically peak this year," says Cool, "I am in the springtime of my lifespan — this work is partly born of an urgency to create, even if it’s not procreative. In a certain light, egg donation is a means of expressing one’s genetic heritage while signing away all parental rights. It’s not a popular opinion, but I regard this forfeiture as a positive thing. I’m going to adopt someday; it’s not important to me that my children be genetically related. But there’s something biologically satisfying about knowing that your genes will endure."
Cool’s payment (based on donation) was priced at $7,000. However donors with certain traits (models, athletes, Ivy league students and graduates), can command rates over $50,000. While the American Society for Reproductive Medicine deems amounts above $10,000 for egg donors inappropriate, no legal limits are enforced. “Donors are on the observed side of a one-way mirror,” says Cool, “We are cataloged in databases according to our race and hair color. The recipient parents know my GPA, my blood type, every country I’ve ever visited; they peruse an extensive photo spread of my life. I only know their first names.”
Images of Cool’s first egg donation cycle are available for publication. These photographs capture ultrasounds, self-administered injections, lab testing, images of the donor profile, etc. There have been no previously published articles featuring images of the egg donation process.
Live Nude Eggs opens on November 2nd 2012 (First Friday) from 6-10pm and will end on December 15, 2012.
November 2nd (Friday Opening) 6pm-10pm
November 4th (Sunday) 6pm-10pm
November 10th (Saturday) 6-10pm
December 7th (First Friday) 6-10pm
The reception and events are free to the public; additional viewings are available by appointment only (contact Mark Shunney at 831-332-4142). Art Research Office is located on 285 Water Street (Unit B), behind Vapor Cleaners and Samba Rock. No parking is available at this time — please park downtown and walk up Water Street.
The show will debut the opening of Art Research Office, the first commercial gallery in downtown Santa Cruz focused on the economies of contemporary art.
Cool is a writer, artist, and egg donor based out of Santa Cruz. In addition to impregnating strangers for a living, her professional experience includes: human cadaver retrieval, suicide hotline counseling, and teaching incarcerated felons table manners.