March 3, 2024

New York allows compensation for research eggs

More benefit to society than donating for reproduction

After "extensive deliberation", New York’s stem cell authority has decided to
allow scientists to remunerate women who donate eggs for research. It is the
first and only state to allow this.

"The Board agreed that it is ethical and appropriate for women donating
oocytes for research purposes to be compensated in the same manner as women who
donate oocytes for reproductive purposes and for such payments to be
reimbursable as an allowable expense" under state taxpayer-backed grants, the
Empire State Stem Cell Board said in a statement.

In 2005 the National Academies set down guidelines which recommended against
compensating egg donors. But this policy has hampered the efforts of scientists
who specialise in creating human embryonic stem cell lines. Almost no one steps
forward to donate eggs. On the other hand, women are regularly offered tens of
thousands of dollars to donate their eggs for reproductive purposes.

The ESSCB obviously thinks that this inconsistency is absurd. "Donating
oocytes to stem cell research arguably confers a greater benefit to society than
does oocyte donation for private reproductive use," the board said.

Although many bioethicists support embryo research, some regard compensating
donors with suspicion. "I don’t think it’s a good idea," Arthur Caplan, a
bioethicist at the University of Pennsylvania, told The Scientist. "In research
you don’t know what you’re going to get, and the odds are that cloning for
research is never going to work." ~ The Scientist, June