Center for Genetics and Society Statement on Passage of AB 922
Yesterday, Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that overturns existing state law and allows researchers to pay women for their eggs. Along with 17 other state and national organizations committed to reproductive justice, women’s health, LGBTQ rights, disability rights, and other public interests, the Center for Genetics and Society opposed this bill because of serious concerns about how this new law will affect women in California.
A key concern is that the risks of egg retrieval have been inadequately studied and are often downplayed in recruitment and consent materials. New studies and robust anecdotal evidence suggest that short-term harms, especially from ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, are far more frequent than has been communicated to potential egg providers. In addition, data on long-term risks, including reproductive cancers and infertility, is very thin despite repeated calls by women’s health and reproductive justice advocates for longitudinal research. Without sufficient studies, meaningful informed consent is impossible.
Furthermore, paying women for their eggs for research is exploitative; it provides a monetary incentive for women of limited financial means to undergo a procedure that has not been shown to be safe. Low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women are most likely to be affected and the least likely to have access to healthcare if they do experience adverse effects.
AB 922’s sponsor – the fertility industry trade organization American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) – asserts that egg providers should be paid like other human research subjects. But egg providers are categorically different. They aren’t the object of study; instead, they are providing biological materials to be used in experiments unrelated to their own health.
Why did the Governor sign this bill, and why did the California Legislature pass it by such a wide margin? We think the fertility industry misled legislators on the current state of egg provision when, in fact, the current state is unknown. Now, more than ever, we need robust, longitudinal research on the health effects of egg provision, including studies of women who provide eggs for purposes other than their own fertility treatments. It is also imperative that the State creates and funds an egg donor registry to track health outcomes and the demographics of egg providers.
Of particular concern is that expanding the market in women's eggs could facilitate and even encourage reckless experimentation with heritable genome editing. Our state’s commitment to scientific advancement should not eclipse our obligation to protect residents; in this case, once again, women with limited financial means will bear the brunt.
The Center for Genetics and Society 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 information on CGS’ position, please contact Adrienne van der Valk at [email protected].