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California Bill on Eggs for Research Unanimously Approved by Committee

Genetic Crossroads
May 12th, 2006

Susan Fogel, Sen. Deborah Ortiz, and Emily Galpern

A bill to ensure research safeguards for women who provide eggs for stem cell derivation was approved unanimously by the California Senate Health Committee on April 19. The bill, authored by California state Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), a longtime champion of stem cell research, now goes to Senate Appropriations and then, if approved, to the Senate floor for a vote.

Unfortunately, SB 1260 will not directly cover CIRM-funded research because Proposition 71, which created CIRM, prohibits any legislative amendments until January 1, 2008. But the bill is important because it will apply to all privately-funded embryonic stem cell research that takes place in California, because it sets a standard benchmark for CIRM, and because it closes a loophole in CIRM's own regulations that could encourage researchers to use non-CIRM money to get eggs obtained without safeguards. The bill also provides a model for other states interested in ensuring ethical and responsible standards for stem cell research.

Emily Galpern (CGS) and Susan Fogel (Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research) testified in support of the bill at the Health Committee hearing.

Other supporters included Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC), the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG), and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM). ACOG and ASRM's support was "if [bill is] amended," asking the committee to delete the statement that lost wages are not allowable as a reimbursable expense. The amendment was not taken at that time.

The bill includes important safeguards for subjects participating in stem cell research, in this case women providing eggs. Specifically, SB 1260 ensures that these women be accorded all protections for human subjects currently in California code; that they be given unbiased medically accurate information to make informed decisions about the risks of egg extraction; that conflicts of interest that could increase those risks be minimized and disclosed; and that women undergoing egg extraction are entitled to medical treatment for any adverse reactions they experience, with the costs of such treatment covered by the program or project.

The bill also prohibits compensation for eggs for research beyond reimbursement of direct, out-of-pocket expenses; requires institutional review boards (IRBs) to ensure that stem cell research proposals include specific provisions before approval; repeals the sunset date on current requirements that IRBs report annually to the Department of Health Services about embryonic stem cell research, and for the Department of Health Services to report annually to the legislature; and requires written record of confidential demographic information on subjects and adverse health outcomes they experience, to begin collecting data for analysis.

Last year, the legislature easily passed Ortiz's earlier version of the bill that included only minimal standards, but Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed the bill for reasons unrelated to egg issues, while maintaining his support for protections for egg providers. Ortiz reintroduced the bill this year with stronger safeguards as SB 1260, to prevent ethical breaches such as those that occurred in South Korea with Hwang Woo-suk's team.


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