NY OKs Paying Women for Eggs for Research

eggdonorHere’s something that throws that whole “I want to donate my body to science” saying out the window. New York State has said OK to paying women for their eggs . . . at least when they’ll be used for research.

It’s got bioethicists in a tizzy, and I’m still weighing out how I feel about it myself. On the one hand, women are paid for their eggs when it’s an “egg donation” so another person (be it a gay man or another woman) can make a baby. And it takes “work,” to donate eggs . . . regardless of who is getting them in the end, women have to take fertility drugs for a period of time plus daily hormone injections and actually go through the harvesting procedure (including going under anesthesia, which not everyone is comfortable with).

Just check out what it takes to do the Lupron injection:

Of course there’s also the rather large fact that men get paid for donating sperm. So who cares?

Well, the National Academies, for one, who have advocated against allowing payment for eggs donated specifically for research. It would fall in line with other donations to research – a la donating your body to medicine upon your death.

Researchers, on the other hand, have been urging lawmakers around the country to follow this route. Because even with the Obama administration stepping back on the strict federal restrictions for stem cell research under former President George W. Bush, finances are still a major concern for researchers.

Allowing donors to receive some sort of remuneration would increase the numbers of women willing to donate, according to researchers like Samuel H. Wood, MD, PhD, who is CEO of Stemagen, a private embryonic stem cell research firm in La Jolla, Calif.

“Why would a woman take 40 injections and go through everything else involved in oocyte donation in exchange for bus fare?” Wood told the American Medical News last fall. “It’s wrong to ask women to go through this process and not pay.”

In the same article, a woman who donated eggs to an infertile couple and was compensated, called the notion that women should be expected to be altruistic in terms of research but NOT in terms of helping another woman, “ridiculous.”

No one is motivated by altruism, she says. I wouldn’t go that far. I know several women who would give their eggs or even act as a surrogate with no more compensation than their medical costs. The problem is there are not ENOUGH women like them. It’s why paying for oocytes might be the only way to jumpstart research that could ultimately make a difference in women’s lives.

Image: Nature

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