Victory: Eggs-for-Research Bill Dies in California Legislature

Posted by Emily Galpern, Biopolitical Times guest contributor on September 8th, 2016

A pink picture of a cellular mass is shown, a magnification of human egg while still developing in an ovary.

The Center for Genetics and Society and allies are celebrating the demise of AB 2531, a bill that would have allowed payments to women who provide eggs for research, effectively expanding the commercial market for human eggs from the fertility sector to the research context.

The bill, which was sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, died in the State Legislature last week, never making it to the Governor’s desk. Assemblymember Autumn Burke anticipated a veto from Governor Brown and decided not to bring it up for a vote in the Assembly when it was sent back for concurrence, after passing the Senate on August 29 with amendments that seemed to be a tepid response to opponents’ objections.

CGS and allied women’s health, reproductive justice and public interest organizations opposed the bill because of dramatically insufficient information about the health effects of egg provision; the impossibility of true informed consent given the lack of data; the likelihood that low-income women, women of color, and immigrant women would most likely be affected; and the bill’s conflict with national recommendations for federal policy and with state law. For a full explanation of these concerns, see the opposition floor alert and CGS’ letter to the Senate Health Committee.

Organizations opposing AB 2531 included the Alliance for Humane Biotechnology, Black Women for Wellness, Black Women’s Health Imperative, Breast Cancer Action, Center for Genetics and Society, Friends of the Earth, Forward Together, National Women’s Health Network, Our Bodies Ourselves, Pro-Choice Alliance for Responsible Research, and We Are Egg Donors.

The bill was covered by veteran journalist David Jensen in the Capitol Weekly (Senate eyes human egg business), and was criticized in a number of op-eds and columns, including one by former Senator Deborah Ortiz, author of a 2006 law that assured certain protections for egg providers:

AB 2531 was nearly identical to another Assembly bill from 2013, which passed the legislature but was vetoed by Governor Brown (see CGS’ commentary on those 2013 events, as well as California Controversy: Let's Not Expand the Market in Women's Eggs and Eggs for Cash: Pitting Choice Against Risk).

We hope legislators have come to understand the complexity of this issue and, instead of bringing payment and undue incentive to the table, begin to call for long-term studies to provide the information women need to make truly informed decisions about their bodies and their health.

Emily Galpern works with the Center for Genetics and Society as a consultant.

Previously on Biopolitical Times:

Image via Flickr/Ed Uthman

Posted in Assisted Reproduction, Bioethics, Biopolitics, Parties & Pundits, Biotech & Pharma, California, Egg Retrieval, Reproductive Justice, Health & Rights, Stem Cell Research, The States


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