Tuesday, June 07, 2016

The Human Egg Business: California Lawmakers Consider Paying Women for Research Eggs

If you are interested in the buying and selling of human eggs, you might want to take in a California legislative hearing tomorrow in Sacramento.

Up for action in the state Senate Health Committee is a measure that would permit paying women who provide the eggs if they do so for the purposes of research. The compensation is condemned by some because of the risk of providing the eggs, which requires heavy hormonal stimulation. But legalizing payment is sought by others as an aid to science and  as a matter of equality for women.

Currently women cannot legally be paid in California for providing eggs for research but they can be paid for providing them for fertility purposes. Compensation can range upwards of $50,000, according to an analysis by the Health Committee.

The legislation, AB2531 by Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, is sponsored by the fertility industry, which is largely unregulated.  A similar measure was vetoed in 2013 by Gov. Jerry Brown who said,
"Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be."
Burke's bill passed the Assembly April 28 on a 65-3 vote. It now requires full Senate approval before going to the governor.

Opposition to the measure includes Dorothy Roberts, a nationally recognized bioethicist who serves on the research standards group of the California stem cell agency. Also opposed is the Center for Genetics and Society in Berkeley. Marcy Darnovsky, executive director of the group, said this spring, 
"Offering large sums of money encourages women in need to gamble with their health. It’s what bioethicists call 'undue inducement.'"
She noted that the proposed law conflicts with the standards of the California stem cell agency and recommendations of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences.

According to the Senate analysis by Melanie Moreno, Assemblywoman Burke says,
"AB 2531 ensures that women are treated equally to all other research subjects - allowing them to actively evaluate their participation in research studies and be paid for their time, trouble and inconvenience when they do participate. Given that compensation is allowed in 47 other states, and there is no evidence of abuse, it’s time to reconsider our ban, just as New York did." 
For more on paying women for their eggs, see here, herehere and here.

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