Egg market needed, says bioethicist

Some bioethicists want to establish a market for women's eggs to enable embryonic stem cell research to go forward. In an article in the New England Journal of Medicine, a journal which is a muscular supporter of ESC research, Bernard Lo, of the University of California at San Francisco, says that a ban on buying eggs ignores the existence of a competitive market to supply the IVF industry. Some companies regularly place ads in university newspapers for eggs from young, white, well-educated women.

Lo says that a ban discriminates against poor women who might need extra cash to balance their budgets: "This apparently neutral rule that we're not going to pay anybody for research in fact means you are closing off financial opportunities for women of certain socio- economic and ethnic background," he says. "We pay people to undergo risks in other types of research. It doesn't seem fair to have [egg donors] undergo clear medical risks and not offer them something for that." However, the issue is so fraught that even his own university has not authorised paid egg donation.


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