Prof. Dabney Lyons
Fall Semester16 September 2018
Rhetorical Analysis of “Egg Heads”
The author of the article “Egg Heads: young women in need of cash are increasingly deciding to sell their bodies”, Kathryn Jean Lopez is a female American columnist who writes often on bioethics, religion, feminism, abortion, education and politics. She is also the former editor at National Review Online. This article was published in National Review on September 01, 1998, to explain how young women who are generally healthy are selling their eggs for money without being informed about the various risks, legal complications involved in the IVF process using numerous fact-driven statistics. She explains how young women are putting their bodies to risks during IVF using rhetorical strategies pathos, logos and ethos.
The main thesis in “Egg Heads” article is that egg donation especially in exchange for money is quietly expanding the market and there are more disadvantages when compared to the advantages in terms of how people perceive a young female body, human life and motherhood. In simple straightforward terms, the author creates an immense thought provoking impact on who reads the article especially by looking at the physical risks involved for the donor and legal complications involved for the donor and receiver.
Pathos evokes an emotional response from a reader by appealing to empathy. It evaluates the emotions (such as pity, sympathy, sorrow) that the author is trying to elicit. The emotional response can be invoked by the author by quoting various examples, narrative or story. The author mentions the rhetorical element of pathos at different instances throughout the article. The author states that IVF complications at the worst can lead donor dead, and how young women who do not know what they are getting themselves into can risk bleeding, infection and scarring, abdominal pain and which could cost the donors their lives, by using these words the author was successful in evoking a deep emotional response from the readers. Jaycee was portrayed as “Nobody’s child” by the media in one of the many legal complications that are involved around IVF (John and Lunne Buzzanca’s divorce), makes the readers feel sad for the child. The author states that the young women in need of cash are deciding to sell their eggs which is in line with what Katha Pollitt has stated to describe egg donation and surrogacy as a way of “reproductive prostitution”. In this way, the author was very successful in bringing many emotions to the reader’s attention. The words she used throughout the article in various instances such as “cut out and remove young women’s ovaries for cryopreservation” provides the readers with an emotional image of human body. Lopez stressed on the fact that the college girls who are in need of money are susceptible to egg donation ads, this would create a sympathetic response among the readers towards college girls. These examples depict how the author was successful in executing the pathos element.
Logos seeks to persuade the reader intellectually by demonstration of logical proof. Logos convinces the readers using facts and evidence. In this article, Lopez gives logical reasoning by stating different statistics such as, New York’s Brooklyn IVF raising its “donor compensation” from $2,500-$5,000 per cycle, The International Fertility Center in Indiana Polis, Indiana placing ads in the Daily Princetonian offering Princeton girls as much as $35,000, National Fertility Registry egg brokerage featuring an online catalog for couples to browse in advertising $35,000-$50,000 for Ivy League eggs. She further adds few more facts such as, by 1995, as per the latest tally that was taken by centers for disease control 15% in this country had made use of some form of assisted-reproduction technology in conceiving their children, American society for reproductive medicine was aware of 63 IVF programs in 1991 offering egg donation and that number has increased by 189 by 1995. The author was able to establish the logic by stating the fact that “when too many eggs are matured in one cycle, it can damage the ovaries”. This proves that the author has performed a deep research on the IVF process from the facts and statistics stand point which helped in executing logos successfully in this article.
Ethos convinces the readers of the author’s credibility or character, the way the author expresses his/her different views. The author is a woman and her article speaks about how IVF can impact women physically and emotionally, this helps in establishing the credibility of the author. The author has explained the advantages and disadvantages involved in IVF. She explained the terms related to IVF using simple vocabulary (especially the way she explained the process of cryopreservation as freezing the eggs, thawing and fertilizing once the couples are ready for kids in their lives, was straight to the point) which helps readers who do not have medical background to understand the intent of the article. This states that she is very knowledgeable about the topic but the author weakens her ethos by not considering how infertility is a serious issue among couples due to various reasons and there can be young women who do their research and are willing to help these couples who are desperate to have kids.
The author was successful in expressing her views on IVF using the three rhetorical strategies logos, pathos and ethos. By using numerous facts and examples and evoking right emotional responses the author was successful in conveying the facts such as IVF can be physically harming to young women who donate their eggs for money, there will be legal issues involved around the donors, receivers, children (like the complications that were involved in the case of William Kane who left 15 vials of sperm to his girlfriend Deborah Hect and how his ex-wife and children contested his girlfriend’s claim of ownership) and motherhood is being converted into a leisure-time activity but the advancements in the IVF and the demand for this technology and the money it is generating will lead the IVF market to zip along. This establishes the fact that she was very successful in conveying her points about the seriousness of IVF and the issues involved around it, advantages in a very credible way without repeating the information. The whole article was very precise, straight to the point and the transition from one paragraph to another paragraph was very smooth. This shows that the author is not only very well-versed in dealing with important topics such as IVF but also successful in grabbing the attention of the readers right from the beginning itself by narrating a scenario of how girls in the twenties are attending an orientation for potential egg donation at New Jersey fertility clinic specializing in IVF rather than jumping into the details and statistics. This article could encourage the women to consider the risks and impacts of IVF.
In my opinion, IVF is a blessing in disguise for infertile couples who are desperate to have kids and this should not be used as a means to postpone the motherhood, also if the donors are provided with the right amount of information about the risks involved in this process then it will lead to women making a conscious decision about donating their eggs rather than making a decision out of desperation for money. The author writes the article in third person point of view which helps in keeping the article very formal, non-biased and makes the readers comfortable in reading the article. The whole article was explained in very simple words and sentences, which makes the author successful in communicating the intent of her article even to the readers who do not have prior knowledge about IVF process. Overall, the author was able to gain the trust of the readers and educate them at the same time, by covering the article from different perspectives rather than making it seem an article that was written out of emotion.
Lopez, Kathryn Jean. “Egg heads: young women in need of cash are increasingly deciding to sell their bodies.” National Review, 1 Sept. 1998. Web. 16 Sept. 2018. http://www.nationalreview.com/Ethos, Pathos, and Logos Definition and Examples. 2015. http://pathosethoslogos.com/