New York Becomes First State To Allow Payment For Donating Eggs For Stem Cell Research

From MedicalNewsToday.com

New York’s Empire State Stem Cell Board earlier this month decided to allow embryonic stem cell researchers who receive state funding to compensate women for donating their eggs for use in research, making New York the first state to enact such a policy, the Washington Post reports (Stein, Washington Post, 6/26). According to the New York Times, the New York state Legislature in 2007 allotted $600 million for an 11-year stem cell research plan (Nelson, New York Times, 6/26). Under the board’s decisions, researchers receiving the state funding may pay women up to $10,000 to compensate them for the time, discomfort and expenses associated with egg donation. David Hohn, vice chair of the board’s two committees that endorsed the decision, said that the board “could not distinguish ethically between the payment for in vitro fertilization, which is very well precedented, and the compensation for donation for research.” The board said researchers should follow the same guidelines as infertility clinics that receive donated eggs for infertile couples. Under those guidelines, payments exceeding $5,000 must be justified, and those exceeding $10,000 are considered excessive (Washington Post, 6/26). Robert Klitzman, director of the master’s degree program in bioethics at Columbia University and a member of the stem cell board’s ethics committee, said the payments will be carefully evaluated by an institutional review board (New York Times, 6/26).

The Post reports that the decision goes against policies in other states that offer funding for embryonic stem cell research, as well as against current guidelines from scientific organizations like the National Academy of Sciences (Washington Post, 6/26). NAS guidelines, for example, prohibit paying women for eggs used in stem cell research. Similarly, the internal guidelines for New York-based groups like Rockefeller University, Cornell University and the Sloan-Kettering Institute prohibit financial compensation for donated eggs. However, researchers say that efforts to recruit unpaid donors have been unsuccessful and that the board’s decision will give New York an advantage in stem cell research (New York Times, 6/26).

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