Saturday, August 1, 2009

Eggs For Research

New York has become the only state in the union to pay women to donate eggs for stem cell research.

The extremely controversial program, which should get underway next year, will be run by the Empire State Stem Cell Board, which oversees the $600 million dollars that the state has allocated for stem-cell research over 11 years. New York universities believe in the future benefits of stem cells to combat disease. But such research requires a steady supply of female gametes.

Harvesting eggs is a long process, requiring hormone treatments and outpatient surgery. It's not dangerous, but it's not as simple as donating blood, and it's no fun for the woman. So NYS will compensate women for their egg donation, with between $5,000 and $10,000.

Opponents say this will lead to desperate women selling their eggs. They're right, it will. Poor women and/or addicted women will be among the donors. So will college girls seeking to finance education, a car, or spring break at Acapulco. Should it be forbidden because exploitation is a possibility?

I think not. If women are legally allowed to control their own bodies with regard to abortion, surely they should be legally allowed to control their own eggs. And yet horrific situations may result. I wrote a novel about this -- but apparently it wasn't horrific enough, since the book never sold.

Last week the news reported that a scientist had succeeded in coaxing a stem cell from a woman to turn into a sperm. Theoretically, this woman could now fertilize herself. It's a wild ride into reproductive technology that the twenty-first century will take us on. I just wish I could live the whole century. I want to know how the story turns out.


Mark said...

Nancy: I'd LOVE to read that not horrific enough novel. Along the same issue (bodily ownership) is a fun-read of a biography: Working by Dolores French. It does rattle society's cage and isn't for everyone, so you may enjoy it.

BTW, back home in Arizona I had no problem finding your works at libraries & bookstores, but here on the east coast, ironically, I'm having a hard time finding Steal Across The Sky even in bookstores, let alone libraries. Of course, I haven't revisited Manhatten yet, so that might solve that annoyance.

Joe Iriarte said...

"I just wish I could live the whole century. I want to know how the story turns out."

Hear, hear. I keep thinking that now that we live in the future, medicine should have gotten rid of the need for me to die . . .

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Mark, stop by my place of work--B&N Lincoln Triangle, 66th Street and Broadway. I'm the Performing Arts supervisor, but I manage to keep a few of Nancy's and Paul Wilson's books on the fiction shelves.

John Cunningham, a.k.a. Johnny Fiction, doesn't like me intruding on his domain.

"Shortlist your own music, dance, film and theater titles, Little Blues! Stay out of my area!"

To which I could only reply in my suavist voice,

"That's a nice knife, John. Way cooler than my gun."

bluesman miike Lindner said...

Erratum: in that last post, "suavist" should read "suavest."