HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Thursday, April 7, 2005

Egg Donor Rights

Columnist Ellen Goodman had an interesting article yesterday on egg donors and how they have become part of the debate over stem cell research.  She states,

The history of women who have undergone IVF over two decades suggests that it's a pretty safe procedure. But there may be short-term risks from overstimulating the ovaries, and there may be long-term risks as well from hormones. So far, these too seem pretty low, but history has left us properly wary.

This wariness has led a number of activists in the women's health community to raise a cautionary flag. Judy Norsigian, known to generations raised on her co-authored "Our Bodies, Ourselves," has written that we should "postpone embryo cloning research with human eggs until better data make true informed consent possible."

She and others raised their concerns in Massachusetts where the Legislature just approved a bill promoting stem cell research. Meanwhile in California, Deborah Ortiz, a state senator who supported Proposition 71 for state-funded research, has asked for a three-year moratorium on multiple egg harvesting.

Ms. Goodman then examines a different question: 

Can women make these decisions themselves?    

We allow men and women to donate kidneys or portions of their liver. People participate in all sorts of research. Is there something inherently different between allowing a woman to take the risk of childbirth and allowing her to take the much smaller risk of donating eggs that may eventually cure her child's diabetes? I don't think so.

The article raised some new issues for me and caused me to think in new ways about the stem cell research debate.  [bm]

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