British Bioethics "Watchdog": Women Can Sell Eggs for Human Cloning

Bioethics   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Feb 14, 2006   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

British Bioethics "Watchdog": Women Can Sell Eggs for Human Cloning

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by Steven Ertelt Editor
February 14, 2006

London, England ( — A British bioethics "watchdog" says women should be allowed to donate their eggs for research, despite controversy in South Korea that scientists there took advantage of women for their falsified embryonic stem cell research.

The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), which is supposed to provide advice on the ethical nature or lack thereof on bioethics issues, says women should be able to sell their eggs for human cloning and stem cell research.

The agency recommended that the European nation change its guidelines. Currently only human embryos leftover from infertility treatments can be used in research and only human eggs not used in fertility treatments.

Pro-life groups oppose researcher on human embryos because it involves the destruction of unborn children days after conception. They also opposed HFEA’s suggestion that women not undergoing fertility treatment should be able to sell their eggs.

Matthew O’Gorman, a spokesman for the pro-life charity LIFE, told Reuters, "We are dismayed by this proposition because egg donation is inherently risky and unnecessary."

Michaela O’Sullivan, also with LIFE, told the Associated Press she is worried "that women will be used as objects for scientific research and will be encouraged to undergo inherently risk-laden procedures for no benefit."

"Women are going to want to help in cloning research, to do a positive thing to help all of these people, all of these handicapped people in the future, but they are playing to the emotions of many women who, by nature, want to help people," she explained.

HFEA spokesman James Healy says the recommendation comes after his agency heard from researchers that they want better quality human eggs for their experiments.

Britain legalized human cloning for research in 2001 and scientists at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne have been given licenses from HFEA to conduct cloning.

Should the HFEA executive board approve the proposal, the agency says women should be paid $250 British pounds.

The proposal would also prohibit scientists from using eggs donated by researchers. That happened when South Korean human cloning scientist forced two members of his team to donate their eggs.

The South Korean scientists also used human eggs obtained from women who were paid for them. Some groups suggest paying women could lead to the exploitation of poor women.