April 21, 2024


Is the New England Journal of Medicine supporting a campaign to allow scientists to pay for women’s eggs for stem cell research? A number of states prohibit researchers from compensating egg donors for anything beyond reimbursement for reasonable costs. But Harvard Business School professor Debora Spar argues in an editorial in the latest issue of the NEJM that it is nonsensical to allow egg “donation” for as much as US$20,000 or more when the eggs will be used to produce babies, but to ban it for research. The commodification of embryos and the risk to the donors are the same — why the double standard?

Dr Spar calls for a fresh debate on egg donation and new policies: “the politics of egg donation have blinded us to these real issues. We have not thought deeply about what makes sense for science, for women, and for society.” What she favours is a regulated market for eggs in which donors are given full information about risks and full protection against them.