Human Exceptionalism

CIRM to Pay for Eggs?

The CIRM has a policy against buying eggs for cloning and other biomedical research. But…I warned a bit ago that some bioethicists and bioscientists were agitating to change that policy. Now, the new head of the CIRM, Alan Trounson, has apparently dropped hints that he would like to see eggs bought and sold. From the story in The Scientist (no link available):

Recent comments by California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) President Alan Trounson imply that the agency may be looking for ways to pay women for their eggs for stem cell research.

Currently, laws in California and Massachusetts — two leader states in stem cell research — prohibit compensation for eggs. But with a shortage of available human eggs for research purposes, the issue remains a national sticking point to the progress of stem cell research and cloning science.

At a meeting of CIRM’s Standards Working Group (SWG) on February 28, Trounson called on the CIRM to explore ways to reimburse women for eggs, according to the transcripts of the meeting.

“The demand for oocytes may be way beyond what we can possibly deliver,” said Trounson, in response to the growing number of applications to use human eggs in research. He cited the failure of many researchers to obtain eggs through donation without financial reward. “Women are not prepared to go through those procedures without some form of compensation,” he said.

This would just be one more method by which human cloning technology dehumanizes and leads to exploitation. It would not be the well off who would go through the onerous egg extraction procedure for relatively little money, but the poor. And that could cost women their lives, their fertility, or their health.

At least one CIRM board member recalls the promises made in the campaign:

Jeff Sheehy, a CIRM board member, said he reacted “viscerally” to Trounson’s announcement. “It seemed to fly in the face of Proposition 71,” he said. Sheehy told The Scientist that Proposition 71 was approved following a campaign that promised a no-compensation policy for CIRM-funded research. “Why go against the will of the legislation in what voters thought they were approving?” he said.

Perhaps because in some people’s minds, the wants and desires of “the scientists” trumps all. Paying for eggs for biomedical research should be outlawed. For more information, see Hands Off Our Ovaries.