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Sunday, October 24, 1999 Published at 13:35 GMT 14:35 UK

World: Americas

Anger greets online egg auction

Ron Harris says beauty can be purchased by the highest bidder

Fertility campaigners have reacted with disgust to the launch of a website offering the eggs of eight models for auction over the internet.

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The US-based site, which would be illegal in Britain, asks people to submit bids for the eggs of eight "angels", who are pictured but not named.

Bids start at between US$15,000 and US$150,000, depending on the model. Prospective parents are asked to choose on the basis of photographs, plus information such as vital statistics and the age of parents and grandparents.

[ image: Models pictured online]
Models pictured online
But those who want to register a bid need to become a member of the site - which issues warnings about its erotic content - and pay US$24.95 a month.

And even if a bid is deemed successful, the Ron's Angels site clearly states that "all girls reserve the right of refusal".

The scheme is the brainchild of American photographer and film-maker Ron Harris, 66, whose work appears on a number of pornographic websites.

Sean Tipton, spokesman for the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, has condemned the scheme as "unethical and distasteful".

"We as a society seem to have come to the conclusion that it's not appropriate to traffic in body parts," he said.

'Darwin's natural selection'

But Mr Harris has described the egg auction as "Darwin's natural selection at its very best".

Only the details of one model - a 25-year-old brunette - are accessible to non-members. The closing date for the auction is the end of December and her eggs have a minimum bid price of $30,000. The site says she has a 34B bust, a 79-year-old grandmother and wants the money to "not be dependent on a man".

All the money goes to the donor, with an extra 20% paid to Ron's Angels. Purchasers then have to fund all medical bills to fertilise and implant the egg, the site says.

It also asks for more donors and stipulates that applicants must be "beautiful, healthy and between 18-30 years old".

Harris's site also trails a forthcoming auction of male models' sperm.

The leading US internet auction site, eBay, bans the sale of eggs, sperm and human organs on its site.

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