Wesley J. Smith keeps us informed on the progress of the culture of death and human exploitation. California's legislature has passed AB 926, which legalizes the direct purchase of human eggs from women.
Human eggs, as Smith has repeatedly pointed out, are ounce for ounce probably the most valuable commodity in the world right now. Biotech companies urgently want them for cloning and other embryonic experimentation, and of course IVF clinics want "high-quality" eggs in order to make human embryos for their clients. I wrote here about the direct selling of human embryos that some IVF clinics are now engaging in.
Problem is, the hyperovulation and harvesting process is unpleasant for women and can even be dangerous, so it's difficult for the vultures and body-sellers to get "enough" eggs for their purposes. Previously California has prohibited the payment of sums of money in excess of a woman's actual expenses for the egg-harvesting process. A.B. 926 would change that and allow outright buying and selling of human eggs.
In case anyone thinks that my advocacy of the free market means that I think everything is buy-able and sell-able, let me correct that impression at once. There are things that simply should not be bought or sold at all. Human eggs are among them. So are human beings.
Which brings me to this part of Smith's report:
Enter AB 926, which will legalize egg selling for biotech research–as well as purchase and sale of human embryos, e.g., nascent human trafficking.
On this subject, I find the California legislature's discussion of the bill somewhat confusing.
There are quite a few mentions of embryos, but I can't figure out who is getting paid for them. For example:
Existing law prohibits human oocytes or embryos from being acquired, sold, offered for sale, received, or otherwise transferred for valuable consideration for medical research or otherwise transferred for valuable consideration for medical research or development of medical therapies, and prohibits payment in excess of the amount of reimbursement of direct expenses to be made to any research subject to encourage her to produce human oocytes for the purposes of medical research.
This bill would instead require women providing human oocytes for research to be compensated for their time, trouble, and inconvenience in the same manner as other research subjects, as prescribed. The bill would require an institutional review board to disregard the amount of compensation if a woman providing human oocytes for fertility is compensated, human oocytes or embryos in excess of those needed for fertility are offered for research, and certain conditions are met.
That seems to indicate that this would change existing law about selling both eggs and embryos. Yet the only person whom it says can be "compensated" is a woman who is offering eggs that will be used for making embryos. Other references to embryos are similar.
The current ban on compensation for women providing human oocytes for research was created due to concerns regarding the high volume of oocytes needed for embryonic stem cell research, but extends to all research. Without compensation, few women participate in research, creating barriers to reproductive research that could benefit all women. As an example, more research could be done on embryo quality so that women undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVF) can confidently choose to have a single embryo implanted with a high probability of achieving a successful pregnancy, instead of multiple embryos. Lowering the rate of multiple pregnancies in IVF is a high priority goal that benefits women, parents, the resulting children, and society. The best source of available embryos for research comes from embryos created for fertility using a compensated donor, as she is more likely to produce a higher volume of oocytes and excess viable embryos than the infertile woman. Due to the ban on compensation, oocytes and embryos not needed for fertility will be unsuitable for research and will likely be discarded.
So does that mean that after the embryos are created they can be bought and sold for "compensation" as well, or does it mean only that the women will be "compensated" for their eggs so that larger numbers of "high-quality" eggs can be obtained leading to "higher-quality" embryos for research and IVF?
I can't really figure that all out, but of course the law is odious on multiple levels. The rationale for directly purchasing women's eggs is, inter alia, that this will produce better embryos which can then be usefully destroyed in research! It would be such a terrible waste if the embryos were simply discarded rather than being thriftily used for (destructive) research.
Right now, Smith reports, the only thing that stands in the way of this law in California is the possibility of a governor's veto. Let's hope Brown does the right thing.
P.S. I don't know if anyone remembers when some pro-lifers, most notably William Hurlbut, were pressing for something called ANT-OAR to produce embryonic stem-cells. The idea was to engage in a cloning-like process using a human egg but to alter the DNA of the skin cell so as to make sure that the resulting...entity, shall we call it, never had the biological, organismal properties identifiable in an embryo. In other words, supposedly everything would be so altered in advance that the cloning-like process would literally not produce an embryo, only a mass of embryonic stem cells. Such was the theory. Now, apart from the fact that it was quite dubious as to whether this would actually work as intended rather than producing merely damaged embryos (I had one advocate of the process admit to me that "we don't really know" what sort of entities would be produced), and aside from the fact that iPSCs have now made this whole concept moot, there is this small matter of eggs. For ANT-OAR would require the harvesting and (mis)use of women's eggs just as much as ordinary cloning. Thus, had it been successful, it would have fueled the drive for human egg buying and selling. That by itself should render it ethically off limits.