Thursday, June 18, 2009

Empire State will pay for human eggs for research use

According to The Scientist, the Empire State Stem Cell Board determined last week that it's ethical to pay women to obtain eggs for use in stem-cell research.

The ESSCB points to the practice of paying women who donate eggs for reproductive purposes, which is not prohibited under New York law, and argues that donation for research purposes is not meaningfully different from that practice. You can read the ethics board's statement here.

An interesting difference in this case, however, compared with the reproductive instance, is that ESSCB will be using taxpayer funds to buy eggs. (Yeah, yeah, they're careful to say they're not buying eggs ... they're paying donors. Anybody buy that distinction?)


Unknown said...

Without answering your question, let me pose another one. What's the difference between paying women to donate eggs that are used for reproduction but the embryos are never implanted and then those embryos are used for research? (I have no direct knowledge that such embryos are used in this fashion).

Sue Trinidad said...

Well, one obvious difference is that embryos that are "left over" from reproductive cloning uses aren't expressly created or conceived with research use in mind...and some people see the creation of embryos that *could* be used for reproduction as less morally problematic than crating embryos specifically for research use -- in the former case, one might be (at least notionally) thinking of babies (ie, ends in themselves--at least arguably so), and not stem cells (ie, means to an end, even if the end is a worthy one).

And of course some people don't see any of this as morally freighted.

But why do you ask? Do you see a meaningful difference?