Human eggs (pictured) used in research could fetch thousands of dollars, if California loosens a law regulating their procurement.
Dennis Kunkel/Newscom
California is set to pass a bill that would allow payments over and above 'direct expenses' to be made to women who donate eggs for research. The bill promises to increase the supply of eggs to scientists studying reproduction, but will not eliminate restrictions on research supported by the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) in San Francisco, a major funder of stem-cell research in the state.

After passing in the California State Assembly on 2 May, the bill is likely to be subject to a vote in the state senate as early as Thursday, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, which represents fertility clinics and researchers, and pushed for the bill. "We expect this bill to pass and the governor to sign it," says Sean Tipton, the society's public-affairs director.

The bill (Assembly Bill 926) would overturn a 2006 California law that prohibits payments for research eggs for anything besides "direct expenses" such as travel. The bill instead allows compensation for "time, discomfort, and inconvenience" — a standard commonly used in human studies.