Thursday, June 20, 2013

Pay-For-Eggs Legislation Draws More Media Attention

California legislation to allow women to be paid for their eggs for scientific research generated several news articles this week as the measure neared final legislative approval.

The coverage included both pro and con but did not amount to major attention from the mainstream media. And, with one exception, the articles failed to report that the legislation did not apply to research funded by the $3 billion California stem cell agency, which bans compensation for egg providers.

The proposal (AB926) is now on the state Senate floor with a vote possibly coming as early as next Thursday. A spokesman for the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Birmingham, Ala., an industry group sponsoring the bill, said unequivocally that the Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to sign the measure. (See the Senate floor bill analysis here and a press release on the bill here.)
Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla
Photo Source -- Bonilla's office

The articles about the legislation by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, have appeared in the journal Nature, the San Francisco Chronicle and the Huffington Post over the past few days.

Alice Crisci, a California patient advocate writing on the Huffington Post, yesterday remarked that women egg providers should be treated the same as men involved in scientific experiments.
“After all, aren't we past the days when we treat women like they are less capable than men of making sound decisions for their own well-being? It's my body and my choice if I want to donate a dozen of my eggs to science. Who knows -- maybe it's my egg that will be used to find a cure for cancer.”
Debra Saunders, writing a column in the Chronicle on Sunday, said,
“That sperm-egg parity argument is so bogus. When men donate sperm, they risk second thoughts about unknown, random offspring, but they do not risk serious medical side effects. Egg donation, on the other hand, can be hazardous to your health. The New York Times reports, "Egg donors can suffer serious side effects from the powerful hormones needed to generate multiple eggs." And: "The most significant risk is ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome, which can cause bloating, abdominal pain and, rarely, blood clots, kidney failure and other life-threatening ailments."
Charlotte Schubert, writing in Nature on Tuesday, said,
“In practical terms, the bill would bump up payments from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In Oregon — which, like most states, does not have regulations governing egg donation — women recently received $3,000–7,000 each for eggs used in a study that created stem-cell lines from cloned human embryos.”
Prices for eggs can run substantially higher depending on the characteristics of the supplier.

Bonilla's office said the bill did not come up for a vote during today's Senate floor session but could come up next Thursday.

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