Should women be paid for providing eggs for stem cell development?
There were two announcements last week of breakthroughs in stem cell research and both were covered in the Sydney Morning Herald:
1) A team from Oregon Health & Science University managed to clone stem cells from the skin of a baby which were genetically identical to the baby (click here to read the SMH article);
2) A researcher from Monash University, in collaboration with Harvard University, showed how it is possible to use any human cell to develop artificial stem cells that match that human cell (click here to read the SMH article).
These breakthroughs have the potential to rapidly accelerate medical progress, particularly regenerative medicine.
These processes for stem cell development require inserting the human cell into a donor egg. Therefore, the medical profession will require an assured supply of eggs to facilitate this. Eggs can come from women undergoing IVF or from women prepared to undergo an operation in which their ovaries are stimulated to enable the removal of an egg. However, it is illegal to pay women for providing their eggs in Australia.
So should women be paid for providing eggs for stem cell development? All the women that I have asked so far have said yes. This has left me intrigued as to how the ban came into force in the first place and who is lobbying for change.
In one of the SMH articles, an Australian company argued that the team from Oregon succeeded because they had access to better quality eggs. Australia’s legislation is hampering medical progress and the potential success of Australia companies in this field.