Earth Notes
11:52 pm
Mon February 27, 2006

Legislators debate banning egg sales

Phoenix, AZ – The question is simple: Should women be allowed to sell
their eggs. One measure before the House on Monday
would say no -- and make both the women who offer their
eggs and the companies that buy them subject to a year
in prison and fines of up to $150,000. And another
would continue to allow women to donate their eggs --
but only after being informed of the various medical
risks. Both are being pushed by Rep. Bob Stump who said
they are necessary to protect the health of women. But
Rep. Linda Lopez said the bill is sexist because
lawmakers were unwilling to adopt her proposal to also
prevent men from selling their sperm.

(I don't understand why a man could go out and sell
part of his reproductive body and I as a woman cannot
do it, that a man can go and make money that I as a
woman cannot do it. I don't understand the difference.)

But Stump said there is a difference: The medical risk.

(Donating or selling sperm poses no risk to health. In
fact it's more dangerous for a man to cross the street
than to donate sperm.)

By contrast, he said, there are risks to women, both
from the injections of hormones to get women to produce
multiple mature eggs as well as the harvesting process
itself. That argument got the attention of Rep. Kyrsten
Sinema. She pointed out that the risks are the same
whether a woman is selling eggs or simply donating
them. And nothing in either of Stump's bills would make
the donation of eggs illegal. Stump conceded that his
proposals have another motive, an ethical one.

(Is one donating an egg to an IVF clinic to enable a
childless couple to have a child? Or is one selling
one's eggs for cloning research with no medical benefit
to oneself for the express purpose of destroying cloned
human embroys. I think do no harm has to be an
operative phrase in medicine.)

Stump said that the offers available to buy human eggs
-- with some companies offering up to $24,000 to women
-- amount to enticing individuals to undergo a
potentially hazardous procedure. And Stump said said
this legislation is no different than already existing
bans on the sale or trafficking of human organs.
Stump's other proposal deals with what happens with the
women who choose to donate their eggs, without
compensation. It would require that women be informed
of the various risks of the procedure. Lopez did not
argue that there are the same medical risks for men who
donate sperm. But she said there are risks -- and
proposed that men also need to be informed.

(My amendment addresses the issue of making sure that
men are aware that by donating their sperm there is the
possibility that someone could come back to them, a
child, or one of many children, could come back to them
and say, you know, you're responsible for me.)

Stump said he doesn't see the issues the same way. That
did not surprise Rep. Sinema.

(It sounds like we're probably not going to agree on
this. While I'm very concerned about men being, you
know, unfortunately preyed upon and objectified for
their sperm, apparently all this body is concerned
about is about women being preyed upon and objectified
for their eggs. So I'd like to just propose, quickly
here, an agreement: You keep your hands off my eggs and
I'll keep my hands off your sperm.)

Both measures were given preliminary approval on Monday
-- as Stump proposed and without either amendment. In
Phoenix, for Arizona Public Radio this is Howard
Fischer.