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Opponents say egg donation bill would encourage damaging procedure
August 22nd, 2016
By Valerie Schmalz

Women could earn thousands of dollars for donating their eggs for research under legislation awaiting a vote on the floor of the state Senate – a change which the California Catholic Conference warns would increase exploitation of college students and poor young women looking for extra cash.

AB 2531 also has the potential for encouraging abuse of trafficked women and immigrants who could be coerced into donating their oocytes, said Sandra Palacios, associate director for governmental affairs for the California Catholic Conference.

The process of egg retrieval can be “very dangerous for women,” said Palacios, with documented cases of loss of fertility, organ failure and even rarely death.

AB 2531 has already passed the Assembly and if passed by the state Senate would return to the Assembly for concurrence and then go to the governor for his signature.

Two years ago California Gov. Jerry Brown vetoed a similar bill, writing “Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be.”

Eggs extracted for reproductive purposes, to create babies via invitro fertilization, are already sold in a virtually unregulated market in the U.S.

But California law and national guidelines prohibit payment beyond reimbursement for direct costs of egg extraction when the oocytes are used for research.

The National Academy of Sciences 2010 guidelines state that “no payments, cash or in kind, should be provided for donating oocytes for research purposes.”

In California, donor payments are limited by state laws enacted when Proposition 71 created the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, now part of the state constitution, to fund embryonic stem cell research after voters approved it in 2004. Those limits were expanded to all state funded research with legislation passed in 2006.

AB 2531 is sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine and its author Assemblywoman Autumn Burke, D-Inglewood, is an ally of Planned Parenthood, Palacios said. “This is part of their plan to expand it to make it more of a for profit market,” said Palacios.

The sanctity and dignity of human life is violated when the oocytes are used to create and destroy human clones in laboratories, Palacios said. In addition, there is “a moral imperative for us to protect our bodies. This is what God gave us. We should in no way sell any part of our body,” Palacios said

Burke says the bill will compensate women who donate eggs for research, saying, “It’s perfectly legal for a woman to get paid when advertising through Craigslist to provide eggs for infertile couples, but she can’t get paid for a donation in medical research,” said Burke. “It’s insulting to women, and it keeps California’s research institutions in the dark ages.”

The use of drugs to hyper-stimulate the ovaries, particularly in the young women who are the prime candidates for egg donation or sale, can cause ovarian rupture, organ damage, renal failure and in rare cases even death, the Center for Genetics and Society’s executive director Marcy Darnovsky stated in a May 3 letter to the California State Senate Committee on Health.

From August 25, 2016 issue of Catholic San Francisco.


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