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Governor Brown Vetoes Bill that would Help Infertility Research


a blog by Jenny Roo August 26, 2013

Earlier this month, here in the lovely state of California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed legislation that would have allowed women to be compensated for selling their eggs for medical research. We here in California pride ourselves on being a progressive state - we buy organic meat, some of our cities official banners are quite literally rainbow flags, and pot is practically available in vending machines. For the most part, regressive is a bad word here. Now, thanks to Governor Brown and bill opposers, we are one of only three states in the United States to ban women from selling their eggs for medical research - the other two being South Dakota and Massachusetts.

Let me state clearly, when it comes to issues like this I fully believe we should be having open, intelligent conversations and that everyone has a right to their own opinion and concerns. By all means, consider the ethics involved in any issue brought to the state. That being said, let me state my opinion and the opinion of a lot of women - I don't know what it is about the last few years where suddenly women aren't trusted to make their own damn decisions. It's like an infestation of chain-smoking Mad Men arriving from the 1950s like a colony of unstoppable cockroaches.

In his veto statement, Brown said "The questions raised here are not simple; they touch matters that are both personal and philosophical." He also wrote, and this is my favorite, "Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be."

Had it passed, AB 926 would have compensated women who wanted to donate their eggs for research - not just travel expenses, but for their time and trouble. Yes, some of the eggs could have gone towards stem cell research but the vast majority would go towards fertility and contraceptive research. So you know, stuff that would help us.

Just to be abundantly clear - because God knows these bills are hard to understand - it wouldn't allow cloak and dagger, toothless hobby surgeons to go cruising skid row and promising destitute women a life change in exchange for their eggs. It would allow women who wanted to donate eggs for research and progress to make informed, intelligent decisions - on their own, imagine! - and then be compensated. Just like with any other instance of medical research subjects.

Currently in CA you can sell your eggs to 'for-profit' clinics, no problem. That you're allowed to do. So yes, be compensated for helping a couple who needs it - you just can't be compensated for helping countless couples who need it.

And if you're keeping score, here - not to underplay what a man goes through - but men are compensated if they decide to donate their sperm in the name of science and I think we can all agree here that that process sounds like a lot more... fun.

Yes, with every surgery (which an egg donation obviously involves) there are risks, never mind that we are talking about a medical procedure older than I am with an excellent safety track record. Surgery is obviously more involved than donating sperm. What gets me - and a lot of people - is the insinuation that once money is involved, I am incapable of assessing the risks and benefits for myself. Once again instead of a child my uterus contains hundreds of men stomping around and making decisions for me.

The concern that getting money in exchange for donating your eggs is something that would unfairly appeal to women who are in a financial position that wouldn't allow them to turn it down would be a sound one... if it weren't a sort of myth. The vast majority of women who donate their eggs to science have college or graduate degrees.

The opponents to this bill are largely social conservative groups like the California Right to Life Committee, and the California Catholic Conference (I didn't know until this month that our Democrat Governor studied to be a Jesuit Priest at one point, so I do wonder if his personal background influenced his decision more so than the benefit of his state). The supporters? The National Organization for Women, the American Association of University Women, Planned Parenthood affiliates of California, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, oh and this little thing called the American Society for Reproductive Medicine - maybe you've heard of them.

I'm not saying you have to agree with me about this, I'm not. By no means am I suggesting that you should donate your eggs if you're morally opposed to it - of course not, and if someone told you that you had to, I would be enraged. I would like the choice, however, and the trust of my government to make my own decisions.

I will say if you don't agree with me - consider this. Right now in California there are labs with well educated, well funded researchers whose entire career goal is to solve fertility issues and get women pregnant. The man or woman who has the unlocked capabilities in their brain to make THE major breakthrough and help us may be among them. They just don't have the eggs to do their job - and so, like so many of us have done for years, we still wait.


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