Negotiating & signing the contract

The legal contract is an important piece of the egg donation process as it covers you legally from having to pay for certain expenses or from having to assume any rights for children conceived from your donated eggs.  Be sure to read your contract carefully and ask questions if any arise.  If you are uncomfortable with any of the language in the contract, it is ok to ask for changes or to hire an attorney to represent your interests in the agreement.

Questions to ask:

Can I still decide not to donate if I change my mind after signing the contract?

Yes.  You can withdraw at any time prior to the retrieval.  However, donors should note any mention of withdrawal in any of the legal documents as some contracts include language outlining how compensation is dealt with and sometimes even requiring donors who withdraw to repay any medical or travel expenses incurred up to the date of withdrawal. Donors should negotiate to have any provision restricting their right to withdraw from an egg donation, for any reason, removed.

Who has access to all of my information?

It is standard for the agency to have access to all of your information and for the clinic doctor to have access to all of your medical information.  Many agencies protect their donors’ anonymity by assigning numbers to files and documents, so that your name is never revealed to personnel outside of the agency.  However, confidentiality procedures differ from agency to agency, so it is important to ask how your information is used and protected when first contacting an agency.

How does this contract protect me?

The contract can protect you in a number of ways.  The contract should stipulate that you have no rights or responsibilities to any children conceived from your eggs.  The contract should also cover you in the event that any medical complications arise so that the medical expenses will be covered.  The contract should also cover matters such as the amount of your compensation, when your compensation will be delivered, what travel costs (if any) are covered and how these will be compensated, how your eggs will be used, etc.  If you have any questions or concerns about the contents of your contract, it is best to consult with an attorney.

Consideration: Payment terms and conditions

If a cycle must be canceled before eggs are retrieved, some (but not all) programs provide partial compensation (often based on the number of days of treatment completed). After egg retrieval, you should receive the full, agreed upon amount no matter the number or quality of the eggs.

Consideration: Legal counsel

It is common practice for an egg donor to be assigned an attorney to advocate for the donor and assist in negotiating and executing the egg donor contract. The attorney should specialize in reproductive law. The attorney’s legal fees should be paid for by the intended parent(s). Because an attorney is paid for by the intended parent(s), donors will be asked to sign a waiver of conflict of interest. The donor should take advantage of the opportunity to ask their attorney questions about the contract’s provisions and obligations.

Warning: Signing waivers

Before starting the donor cycle, you may be asked to sign a statement that waives your right to sue the program for medical malpractice, pain and suffering, or any other expenses resulting from complications. You should consult with an attorney before you sign any such waiver to understand the implications of signing a waiver.

Consideration: Lawyer sharing

It is not recommended that you share an attorney with the Intended Parents, even if the agency is asking you to do so. Such arrangements involve “Conflict of Interest Disclosures” recognizing the potential problems of sharing an attorney.

You may find language in your contract indicating you waive the conflict of interest. The contract may say something to the effect of: “You understand that joint representation of you and the Intended Parents brings with it potential conflicts of interest. These potential conflicts of interest may arise between you and the Intended Parents and become actual conflicts of interest. If a potential conflict between you becomes an actual conflict during our joint representation of you and the Intended Parents, we will only be able to continue to represent all of you if you all agree at that time. You also understand that because you are jointly represented, your communications with us are not privileged between you and the Intended Parents. This means that in connection with this matter, we cannot keep any information confidential between you and the Intended Parents.”