Romania: alleged illegal trafficking of human eggs

February 19, 2013 by Alison Mutler

(AP)—Police questioned 30 people on Tuesday and searched the homes of six employees of a private fertility clinic who are suspected of illegally trafficking human eggs and selling them to Israeli couples with fertility problems.

The sale of human eggs for in vitro fertilization is illegal in Romania.

Police said employees at the clinic in Bucharest harvested the eggs from Romanian women aged 18 to 30, some of whom were students, paying them between euros 600 and 800 ($450 and $600), then sold the eggs for euros 3,000 to 4,000 ($2,255 to $3,005).

Authorities said they would not identify the clinic while their investigation is under way. However, journalists, including an Associated Press photographer, saw hooded police enter the Med New Life clinic in the capital on Tuesday and take an unidentified woman into custody. No one answered the clinic's telephones when the AP called to seek comment.

Police say a criminal network of 11 suspects has been involved in the illegal trafficking of human eggs, including Romanian and Israeli citizens from medical professions such as doctor, nurse and embryologist.

Most of the people who benefited from the service were Israeli women who visited Romania for artificial insemination, and the suspects made "considerable financial gains" through this illegal human egg trafficking, police said in a statement.

In November, a Romanian court sentenced four Israeli doctors in absentia to five years in prison in a separate egg-trafficking case.

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