This article from ABC Science Online discusses the growing problem of poor women from nations with less restrictive laws on selling their eggs for research purposes being exploited to satisfy the incredible need that SCNT and embryonic stem cell research creates for usable eggs. I am always interested in the unintended consequences that can arise from the desire to cure and heal those afflicted with illnesses. Some horrible things have been done to people in the past in an effort to further medical science. I think it is a mistake to think that one must be intentional in their efforts like those of Mengele or the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Males to create a scenario that fosters injustice.
The focus of this article is on the dangers represented to women through egg extraction.
Waldby says in recent years there has been trafficking of ova from women in Eastern Europe.
One Romanian clinic has bought eggs from really poor women, she says.
"The clinic was paying them about US$200 a procedure, which is about two months' salary for these women."
One study found some women were repeatedly selling their eggs to pay for rent, clothes and even cigarettes, says Waldby.
In 2004, UK authorities banned the purchase of eggs from the clinic. There were concerns the clinic was not telling women about the risks involved, or looking after them when things went wrong, Waldby says.
Removing eggs involves multiple hormone injections and a surgical procedure.
Some of the Romanian women developed ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which involves painful abdominal inflammation, possible renal failure, infertility and cardiovascular problems, says Waldby.
Great news for the women in the U.S., though. Unlike Australia and the U.K., selling eggs is perfectly legal and potentially profitable:
She says at least one US company has been set up specifically to procure eggs for the biotechnology industry, paying women around US$4000 per "donation".
This is despite a US National Academy of Sciences recommendation against the use of purchased eggs for research.
The drive to create scientific advancement for the purposes of ending all sorts of illnesses is creating an environment that encourages poor people to sell parts of their body. They are so encouraged because people who have money will not donate them or sell them for whatever reason, and the poor, by nature of justifying that title, need money more than others. As a Christian, I have an inner alarm that goes off when I notice that something is disproportionately impacting the poor. We now have evidence that the current research environment is not only based on the principle that one innocent life can be unnecessarily sacrificed without consent to benefit another, but that additionally has the lovely unintended consequence of encouraging poor people to sell their eggs for profit without consideration of the represented physical risks. The promise of a beautiful disease free future delivered through SCNT & ESCR just sounds better and better all the time. Once we get done killing people and exploiting the poor, we will really have some good treatments.