Even as the California stem cell program attempts to move beyond its lawsuit-imposed delays, it keeps pushing the limits of acceptable behavior for a state agency. In just the past month, several questionable activities have generated new controversy.
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine (CIRM) is trying to create a loophole around a prohibition in Proposition 71, the ballot measure that created the CIRM, on paying women to provide eggs for research cloning. The latest version of the agency’s research standards contains new language that would allow payments for “donations” in which eggs from a single retrieval process would be divided between reproductive and research purposes.
CIRM staff assert that the payment would be for only the eggs that would be used for reproduction, while the eggs that would be used for research would be considered donations —although, of course, the eggs themselves would be indistinguishable. Paying women to provide eggs for research is widely seen as inappropriate because it could induce economically vulnerable women to undergo risks that are known to be significant but are not well...