Thursday, September 17, 2009

Egg Donor Proposal Stirs Concern; CIRM Says Language is 'Placeholder'

The Center for Genetics and Society Thursday raised “serious concerns” about some of the matters to be discussed at today's meeting of the research standards group of the $3 billion California stem cell agency.

CIRM, however, said the center has “misconstrued the intent of the proposed changes.”

In a letter to CIRM, the Oakland, Ca., organization center referred to preliminary language contained in a briefing paper for the group that dealt with compensation for egg donors, which is banned by CIRM. The draft language, which is intended to conform CIRM rules to others nationally, would “limit the payment restriction to donation of oocyctes provided specifically for research purposes.”

The center said,
“We were startled to see this for two reasons. As you know, both Proposition 71 and California law prohibit paying women to provide eggs for research. This proposed policy would mean that a woman undergoing egg extraction could be compensated or receive other valuable consideration as long as research is not the specifically stated purpose of harvesting her eggs. Diverting eggs for which payments have been made from the reproductive to the research context would be contrary to Proposition 71 and state law.

“We sincerely hope that this is an oversight. We ask the Standards Working Group to reject the proposed language and to clarify that paying women for eggs that will be used for research (beyond reimbursing their expenses) is contrary to law, and will not be done in California.”
CIRM posted a response to the CGS letter on the agency's website. In the response, CIRM referred to National Academy of Sciences guidelines and said,
“The language 'specifically for research' is a placeholder taken directly from the NAS Guidelines. The SWG (standards group) has consistently drawn from the NAS guidelines to provide a model for our regulations. This example is no different. This placeholder language is designed to support policy development. Any proposed regulatory language is subject to SWG review, ICOC approval, OAL review and public comment to ensure the regulatory language is consistent with the intent of the policy.”
Our take? We think CIRM's intent is clear. However, whether the proposed regulatory language achieves that goal is another question. We suspect more artful language will be developed as these proposed changes work their way through the regulatory process during the next few months.

CIRM is to be lauded for posting its 28-page briefing paper well in advance of today's meeting. That allows time for such parties as the Center for Genetics and Society and others to comment thoughtfully on the matters to be considered. It also allows time for CIRM to respond publicly in advance of the meeting. The upshot is likely to be better policy and better regulations and enhance CIRM's image as responsive to the public.

We should also note that the center's letter also raised concerns about the “prospective use for research of paid-gamete IVF embryos could create conflicts of interest for the physician attending an egg provider, and thus put her at increased risk.”


  1. Anonymous10:14 AM

    First baby conceived from screened egg is born!

  2. Before donor eggs are implanted into an egg donor recipient, a thorough screening is undertaken to ensure that she is medically fit to receive egg donation. This is even more so the case as the woman becomes older.

    Jenny Currie
    baby2mom Egg Donation and Surrogacy Programme

  3. This was a wonderful opertunity for the mothers who could not able to give birth.

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