Holds Hearings on Eggs for Research
The House of
Representatives Government Reform Subcommittee on Criminal Justice
and Drug Policy held a hearing on March 7 entitled "Human
Cloning and Embryonic Stem Cell Research after Seoul: Examining
exploitation, fraud and ethical problems in the research."
The hearing, called by the Republican majority of the committee,
included testimony by two pro-choice women's health advocates who
voiced ethical and health concerns about women being asked to provide
eggs for somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT).
Norsigian, Executive Director of Our Bodies Ourselves, highlighted
the health risks posed by multiple egg extraction and the lack
of information on long-term consequences, the possibility for coercion
and exploitation of women for their eggs, and the obstacles research
patents would create. She raised questions about whether SCNT should
be conducted given current conditions, but stated that specific
policies need to be instituted if SCNT proceeds.
medical sociologist at California State University East Bay, stated
that true informed consent is not possible due to the unknown health
risks facing women who undergo egg extraction, and she asserted
that regulatory structures would not be sufficient to protect women's
health because of rampant conflict of interest among stem cell researchers.
Due to these concerns, she called for a moratorium on SCNT.
in the States
Two states are considering legislation that addresses the retrieval
of women's eggs for fertility purposes or for the use of cloning
techniques to derive embryonic stem cells.
Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento) has introduced SB 1260, a bill
to ensure that women who provide eggs for research are not put unnecessarily
at risk. Sen. Ortiz is a long-term advocate of embryonic stem cell
research who supported California's stem cell initiative, but shortly
after its passage introduced legislation to remedy its defects.
Last year, she authored a bill on eggs similar to SB 1260 that was
passed by large majorities in both the Senate and Assembly, but
was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
In Arizona, the issue of women's eggs has been taken up by Republican
opponents of abortion rights, who seem to be adopting the language
of women's health in the service of their opposition to embryo research.
The Arizona House of Representatives has passed two measures that
would ban payment for eggs and require that women be informed of
health risks prior to undergoing the egg extraction procedure. A
woman selling her eggs, or a physician buying them, could be imprisoned
for up to a year and fined up to $150,000. The Arizona Senate is
set to vote on the measures this month.
The author of
the bill, Rep. Bob Stump (R-Peoria), said the bill was intended
to protect women from a risky procedure that exploits poor women.
Linda Lopez (D-Tucson) offered an amendment that would have
criminalized the sale of sperm with the same penalties as selling
human eggs, which was defeated. "There is a gender equity issue
here," Lopez said. "This bill is an attack on women."
alignment in Arizona highlights the need for those of us who advocate
for women's health and reproductive rights, and also support responsible
stem cell research and fertility treatment, to shape policies addressing
the risks of egg extraction to women's health and the potential
for exploitation that egg extraction entails.