Earth Notes
2:40 am
Fri March 31, 2006

Cloning Ban

Phoenix, AZ – Under the terms of the legislation, women who even
offer their eggs for sale could be sent to prison for
up to a year. And the same penalty would apply to
doctors and researchers who buy eggs. But the law would
apply only if the eggs were being sold for human
somatic cell nuclear transfer -- meaning for cloning
research. But it would remain legal to buy and sell
eggs to help women who are having trouble conceiving.
That distinction bothered Sen. Bill Brotherton.

(Why is it OK to purchase human eggs for in vitro
fertilziation but not for, say, Alzheimer's research.)

Sen. John Huppenthal conceded that, at least from one
perspective, there really is no difference. He noted
that it already is illegal under existing law to buy
and sell human organs for any purpose at all. And
Huppenthal said there's a good reason for that because
it leads to all sorts of problems, ranging from quality
control to victimizing poor people who may be pressured
to sell body parts. But Huppenthal said he is unwilling
to do anything that might discourage women from making
eggs available to help others procreate, even if it
does technically involve the sale of parts of human
bodies.

(I did not want to do anything to discourage what I
view as a pro-life activity, in other words, the desire
of some women to use in vitro fertilization, some
families to use in vitro fertilization to have
children.)

Brotherton said that puts lawmakers in the position of
deciding which situations are proper to allow or even
encourage human eggs sales and which are not. He said
while this legislation goes one direction on the
question, an argument could be made that making eggs
available for research is even more important than
helping infertile couples.


(Some of this research is research that really goes to
life and death when it comes to issues like Alzheimer's
and other types of illnesses. With regard to in vitro
fertilization which I think is very important, you have
a situation in which it isn't a life or death
situation.)

But Sen. Jack Harper said there is a reason to leave
one practice legal -- and criminalize the other.

(The egg being used for in vitro fertilization is for
the purpose of creating life. The sale of that, if the
end result is to create life, are we to stand in the
way of that? But to sell the egg for the purpose of
research is creating life only to destroy it in the
name of science.)

Brotherton responded that if the issue is the
destruction of embryos, then there is a flaw in
Harper's logic. Brotherton said research done by
legislative staff shows that only between 4 and 12
percent of all embryos created for in vitro
fertilization actually end up in live births. That
means at least 88 percent of these do not -- with many
of them being destroyed. Brotherton said that is a far
higher percentage of embryos that are unused than in
research.

(We need to make a clear decision one way or the other:
Is compensating these women for these eggs appropriate
in and of itself and not decide what is an appropriate
use of the eggs aftewards. And sticking with the actual
issue of compensation for that.)

But Brotherton found himself in the minority as
senators gave the measure preliminary approval. A final
roll-call vote is likely next week. In Phoenix, for
Arizona Public Radio this is Howard Fischer.