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California: Bill to allow women to sell eggs for research is vetoed

19 August 2013
Appeared in BioNews 718

The Governor of California, Jerry Brown, has vetoed a bill that would have allowed women to sell their eggs for medical research.

The bill's author, Susan Bonilla, said a lack of research into fertility was affecting thousands of women in California who face the decision of having to store their eggs for fertility reasons.

'Women should be very troubled that Governor Brown doesn't think they should be able to have a choice when it comes to their own eggs', she said.

'There's a deeper level in his veto statement that questions the ability of a woman to engage in informed consent and assess the risks for herself of this procedure', she added. 'It's regressive to woman's health, medical breakthroughs and the fertility issues that are so very important for a woman'.

California is one of three US states that does not allow women to sell their eggs for research - although they are allowed to sell to fertility clinics and can receive up to $10,000 per donation. Men are currently allowed to sell their sperm for research. The bill would have allowed egg donors to be 'compensated for their time, discomfort, and inconvenience in the same manner as other research subjects'.

However, Governor Jerry Brown said that 'in medical procedures of this kind, genuinely informed consent is difficult because the long-term risks are not adequately known'.

Professor Mark Sauer, chief of reproductive endocrinology at Columbia University Medical Center, New York, said that the risk to the donor was an 'acceptable risk'. '[Egg retrieval] is a 35-year-old medical procedure, and the safety track record is well-defined', he said.

Governor Brown said 'the questions raised here are not simple, they touch matters that are both personal and philosophical'.

'Not everything in life is for sale and nor should it be', he wrote in his veto message to the California State Assembly.

The ban on women selling their eggs for research was introduced in 2006 following a 2004 $3 billion stem cell initiative that created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM), which provides grants to scientists working in stem cell research and regenerative medicine.

Bonilla's bill, AB 926, would have only permitted women to donate their eggs to research into infertility and contraception, however. Donating eggs for research funded by CIRM would have remained unlawful, explains the Huffington Post, Los Angeles.

The bill was passed by the California Senate in July and the Assembly in August. Bonilla said she may reintroduce the bill next year.

Brown Rejects Bill To Pay Egg Donors For Research
CBS Sacramento |  14 August 2013
Brown's action on female eggs bill raises questions
Capitol Weekly |  14 August 2013
California Bill To Allow Women To Sell Eggs For Research Vetoed By Gov. Jerry Brown
Huffington Post |  15 August 2013
Veto Message (pdf)
Office of the Governor, California - US Government |  13 August 2013
21 October 2013 - by Rebecca Carr 
For me, this extremely interesting Cafe Scientifique debate on the human egg trade in Canada shed light on many of the ongoing ethical concerns that seem to torment parties engaged in this field...
23 September 2013 - by Rosie Beauchamp 
The UK's first dedicated egg bank for fertility treatment has been launched in London....
9 July 2013 - by Siobhan Chan 
The majority of egg donors donate for altruistic reasons, although personal benefits such as financial compensation are also a factor, according to a large European study...
25 February 2013 - by Maria Sheppard 
Human embryonic stem cell lines approved for federal funding in the USA, may have been derived from sperm or eggs of unconsenting donors...
9 January 2012 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
A Florida court has granted equal parental rights to two lesbian women who created a child using the eggs from one of the women, while the other carried the baby to term. It ruled that egg donors may acquire parental rights to children resulting from their gametes under the Florida and US Constitution....
22 March 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The Canadian ban against women selling their eggs as a source of eggs for fertility treatments is reported to be systemically flawed in practice, according to an expose article published in the April 2010 edition of the Canadian magazine The Walrus. Journalist Alison Motluk interviewed egg 'donors' and recipients, fertility experts and regulators, revealing that the Canadian ban is as farcical as its loose interpretation of the word 'donor'. The article attributed the discrepan...
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