A Campaign to Allow a Market in Women's Eggs for a New Kind of Cloning Research

Posted by Pete Shanks October 7, 2011
Biopolitical Times

An interesting piece of science and a remarkable record of failure came together this week in a clearly coordinated and obviously political move to encourage payments for women's eggs for a new form of cloning-based stem cell research. The experiment, by a New York Stem Cell Foundation team, is reported in this week's Nature and described in many news outlets [1, 2, 3]. The centerpiece of the political effort to expand a market in women's eggs is an article in the journal's News section that shamelessly hyperbolizes about the work:

Cloned human embryo makes working stem cells

The New York Times was a lot more accurate:

After Setbacks in Harvesting Stem Cells, a New Approach Shows Promise

The report on the study itself, and five other papers or letters published simultaneously in three different journals, plus an Editorial in Nature, all stress that there are researchers who very much want to work with women's eggs—a lot of women's eggs—and very much want to lift limits on paying for those eggs. Those limits are set out in policies, some legal, some advisory, in many jurisdictions. They have been put in place to avoid providing monetary inducements for women to downplay or ignore the risks of egg extraction. The researchers and their allies do talk of ethics, but there are strong indications in the article itself that this is fundamentally lip service.