Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pay-for-Eggs Legislation: Strange Bedfellows and Existential Questions

 The California pay-for-eggs bill today generated a feature article that said the legislation has “sparked an unusual lineup of partisans on both sides and resonates far beyond” the Golden State.

The piece by Alex Mathews on Capitol Weekly, a news service specializing in California government and political coverage, said,
“(C)omplicating the issue is California’s role as a national leader in stem cell research, the existential question of who or what constitutes a research subject, and finally, the fact that compensation for fertility purposes is and has been legal for years in California.”
Mathews was writing about the measure (AB926) by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, that removes a ban in California on paying women for eggs for scientific research. Currently women can be paid in California for providing eggs for IVF. The measure would not alter a ban on compensation for eggs in research financed by the $3 billion California stem cell agency. However, later this month, the agency will consider modifying its position somewhat.

The bill has passed the legislature and is on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown. The industry association sponsoring the bill expects the governor to sign it later this month although the governor, as a general rule, does not make public commitments on legislation.

Mathews' article covered the background and arguments on the bill and noted that it has received little mainstream media attention.

Lisa Ikemoto
UC Davis photo
She also quoted Lisa Ikemoto, a law professor and bioethicist at UC Davis, on the sensitive nature of the issue. Ikemoto said,
“On the fertility side, it’s politically hard to touch because it’s all around family formation. Nobody wants to restrict family formation. On the research side, when the issue of payment for eggs came up, it was connected with human embryonic stem cell research, and human embryonic stem cell research was politicized from the outset.”
Mathews also wrote about the strange bedfellows opposing the bill. She said,

“Groups that fundamentally oppose stem cell research such as the California Catholic Conference and other pro-life groups are natural opponents of the bill, but they are joined by a number of pro-choice groups who expressed concerns over the limited research on the effects of egg donation on women’s health.”
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