California Enacts Law to Reduce Risks to Women Who Provide Eggs For Stem Cell Research
This statement can be attributed to Dr. Marcy Darnovsky of the Center for Genetics and Society
The signing of SB 1260, the Reproductive Health and Research bill, is a victory for women's health. The provisions of the new law will reduce the risks to women who provide eggs for cloning techniques used in stem cell research.
Similar provisions have been adopted as law in other countries, and recommended as voluntary guidelines elsewhere in the United States, but the new California law is the first of its kind in the country. The bill was approved by near-unanimous votes in both the California Senate and Assembly, and has now been signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The law's author, Senator Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), is a champion of women's health and an early supporter of stem cell research in California. The Center for Genetics and Society, Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, and the Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research worked closely with the Senator's office on this landmark bill.
The bill was opposed by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the professional organization of the assisted reproduction industry. This is unfortunate, especially since the bill addresses only eggs procured for research, and has no effect on women who provide eggs for fertility purposes.
Together with regulations recently adopted by the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine, SB 1260 ensures that any research efforts in California to produce embryonic stem cells using techniques that require women's eggs will meet certain minimum standards to safeguard women's health.
The passage of SB 1260 has taken on added importance because several biotechnology companies and research teams in California have begun experimenting with cloning techniques (known as somatic cell nuclear transfer or SCNT), which require large numbers of women's eggs. An increasing number of scientists believe that if it is ever perfected, SCNT will be useful as an indirect research tool, not as the basis of medical treatments. But following revelations late last year of fabricated data and fraudulent claims of success by cloning researcher Woo Suk Hwang, what many have called a "cloning race" has resumed.
We hope that the Reproductive Health and Research bill is a step towards the consistent and comprehensive national regulation of stem cell research that the United States so urgently needs.
For a fact sheet on SB 1260, see