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Center for Genetics and Society applauds Governor Brown’s veto of AB 926

[Press statement]

Governor Jerry Brown’s veto of AB 926 is a welcome development for the health of California women, ensuring the continuation of legal protections for those who undergo invasive procedures to provide their eggs for research. The Governor’s decision follows an outpouring of communications from state and national women’s health and public interest groups including the Center for Genetics and Society, Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, Our Bodies Ourselves, and many others.

“Governor Brown did the right thing for the women of California,” said Diane Tober, PhD, associate executive director at the Center for Genetics and Society. “It would be unconscionable to expand the commercial market in women’s eggs without obtaining significantly more information about the risks of retrieving them.”  

The bill that the Governor vetoed would have permitted reseachers to make payments of thousands of dollars for women's eggs. It was sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the trade organization of the fertility industry. Despite ongoing recruitment of young women to sell their eggs for other people’s fertility treatments, understanding of the procedure’s short-term and long-term risks is widely acknowledged to be inadequate. As Governor Brown acknowledged in his veto message, "in medical procedures of this kind, genuinely informed consent is difficult because the long term risks are not adequately known." Women’s health groups have for years called for an effective registry of egg providers that would enable the collection of reliable data on the risks of egg retrieval for young women.

“We are hearing from more and more women who have experienced serious harms after egg retrieval,” Tober said. “A registry would help fill the huge gaps in our understanding of the short-term and long-term risks.”

In a related development, the leadership of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine has asked its ethics committee to loosen the agency’s rules on using stem cell lines derived from eggs for which women had been paid. The committee declined to approve the leadership proposal at a July meeting, and decided to discuss the proposal at a future meeting that has not yet been scheduled.

“Californians who voted to establish the publicly funded stem cell program did so with the understanding that in our state, this research would be conducted ethically, without putting women at risk to provide eggs for cloning-based stem cell investigations,” noted CGS executive director Marcy Darnovsky, PhD.

Currently, New York is the only state that has explicitly authorized payments beyond reimbursement for women’s eggs for research, and the practice is prohibited in far more countries than allow it.

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The Center for Genetics and Society (CGS) is a non-profit public affairs and policy advocacy organization working to encourage responsible uses and effective societal governance of human genetic and reproductive biotechnologies.

For more on AB 926, please see:

  • Risks are Many in Paying Women to Donate Eggs, The Sacramento Bee, July 16, by Diane Tober, CGS associate executive director and Nancy Scheper-Hughes, chancellor’s professor of medical anthropology at University of California, Berkeley, and director of Organs Watch.
  • Fact Sheet: A Bill to Permit Researchers to Pay for Eggs is Bad for Women, Bad for California by Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, Center for Genetics and Society, Our Bodies Ourselves, and Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research.


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