Man holding pregnancy test with woman in the background

There's a black market for positive pregnancy tests - here's why

If you’ve ever been in your local Walmart and noticed that the pregnancy tests are security tagged, then you might have wondered "why?" But unlikely as it may seem, pregnancy tests are one of the most commonly stolen items from drugstores and supermarkets. Small enough to steal discreetly, and easily sold via the black market for a fraction of the cost that you would pay in store, they can be a tempting choice for those who don’t want to spend too much on something they’re only going to use once, let alone going to urinate on.

But there’s another black market for pregnancy tests that’s sprung up in the last few years, and it’s even more unexpected: used ones. More specifically, positive pregnancy tests. For as little as $25, you can buy a little piece of plastic that will change both of your lives forever - or should we say, for a short period of time. But why is it that women are buying other people’s pee-sticks? Is it even legal?

A screenshot of a pregnancy test advert Credit: Screenshot/Craigslist

The black market in pregnancy tests first gained attention in 2016, when it was revealed that a pregnant woman from Florida was selling positive pregnancy tests on Craigslist, with an asking price of $25 each. In an interview with WJAX-TV the woman, who did not want to be identified, told reporters that she had the idea while searching for jobs she could do while expecting: “$200 in a day off, something I have to do no matter what,” she said. “Me being in college working on a bachelor’s and needing all this money to pay for a degree, this was a no-brainer.” But two years later, it seems a few more women have caught onto her trick.

After just a quick search, Four Nine stumbled on a number of live adverts in just one state. Some have copied the wording of the original posting which read: “Whether you are using it for your own amusement such as a prank, or to blackmail the CEO of where ever who you are having an affair with I DONT CARE AT ALL”. Another also promises not to enquire too much into the facts, and offer buyers the warning: “I have clean urine for sale. NO QUESTIONS ASKED. It is positive for pregnancy so if you plan on using it for anything other than a prank pregnancy test, you might want to make sure it won't be tested for that”, wrote one vendor.

Another woman, who claims to be located in Dallas, offered her used tests for $40 and helpfully offered a range of questionable reasons that you may want to buy one: “Are you tryna finesse someone out of abortion money? Trying to prank parents or friends or ex lover? Look no further I'm pregnant and I'm selling positive tests [sic].” For a handy dash of reassurance, she also attached a photo of two positive tests. 

One of the positive pregnancy test adverts Credit: Screenshot/Craigslist

So, can making money from selling your bodily fluids actually be legal? Craigslist prohibits the sale of bodily fluids, so on that level it's technically banned, but lawyer and former FBI agent Dale Carson told WJAX-TV that there is no actual law against it in the USA“This is the kind of thing that makes legislators go ‘we need to pass a law that says you can’t do this.'” That said, the buyer could be breaking the law if they use it to obtain money illegally, for example by trying to "finesse" someone out of the funds for an abortion, which in some states can run at over $1000. 

Dr Yvonne Bohn, Dr Allison Hill and Dr Alane Park, a trio of obstetricians and gynaecologists, were equally disparaging of the sales, writing in a Huffington Post blog that: "The people who are selling these pregnancy tests take their own fertility for granted. While it may seem harmless to pee on a few more sticks for quick and easy cash, they have to understand the damage they’re causing not only to those who are being lied to and trapped in relationships, but also the implications it has for the trying to conceive community."

A close up of woman with a baby bump Credit: Pixabay/Freestocks.org

The idea of trapping a man into a relationship by falling "accidentally" pregnant is, unfortunately, nothing new. But this pregnancy test scheme has one fatal and kind of obvious flaw: the lack of actual child. And although making a little extra money from nine months of discomfort may initially seem fairly canny, in order to call the whole charade off, a fake miscarriage or fake abortion - neither of which are exactly matters to be taken lightly - is more or less imperative. 

It also runs the risk of stoking distrust in perfectly honest, actually pregnant women too. In a stream of comments made of Facebook discussing the sales, various individuals - both men and women - comment that women cannot be trusted: "This should be made illegal since women tend to want to be untruthful", said one. Another suggested that men should: "Go with her or purchase the test yourself, open the box and wait in the bathroom while she pees on a stick".

If anything, the black market for positive pregnancy tests pretty much proves that unspoken rule that if you can think of something, no matter how bizarre it is, it’s probably on the internet somewhere. However, while initially weird or humorous, this actually takes on a much darker side - one that has the potential to cause real harm to everyone involved.