Egg donors would be reimbursed, not paid

By Sandi Dolbee
February 1, 2006
LOS ANGELES – Women who donate eggs for state-funded embryonic stem cell research could be reimbursed for their expenses, including lost wages, under recommendations approved yesterday by a committee charged with setting medical and ethical standards for California's $3 billion stem cell research initiative.

The proposed regulations prohibit state-funded projects from paying donors for eggs, which complies with Proposition 71, the initiative approved by California voters in 2004 to jump start embryonic stem cell research through a decade of public funding.

“This is very complicated. It's going to be controversial,” acknowledged Bernard Lo, a medical ethicist at the University of California San Francisco and co-chair of the Scientific and Medical Accountability Standards Working Group, one of the advisory committees established by Proposition 71.

Lo, however, dismissed suggestions that reimbursing women for lost wages is a slippery slope toward creating a for-profit market that could coerce poor women into selling their eggs.