AB 926 will expand the market in human eggs by paying young women to "donate" their eggs for research. But egg harvesting involves serious health risks!
Tell Governor Brown that if California approves paying women to risk their health and fertility it should take steps to provide evidenced based informed consent, one that is the product of long term follow up and study. In the meantime: DEFEAT AB 926!
Letters should be addressed to:
Governor Jerry Brown Attn: Lark Park, Deputy Legislative Secretary State Capital Sacramento, CA 95814
OR (One of the following is quicker and preferred)
Email letter to:
Lark Park at firstname.lastname@example.org
Fax letter to: (916) 558-3160
Call: 916 445-2841
The state of California acknowledged the dangers to women’s health of paying for eggs for research by passing SB 1260 in 2006. Now AB 926, sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) and authored by Assembly member Susan Bonilla, seeks to overturn that protection by allowing researchers to pay women to undergo the potentially dangerous drugs and procedures in order to get more eggs for research. This bill is not about “equity for women” as it claims. It is about increasing the number of research eggs in order to ultimately increase fertility industry profits, without regard for the risks to women.
Consider the story of Dr. Sindy Wei, a former egg donor. Doctors at a major university fertility clinic told her egg retrieval was safe. They used hormones to stimulate her to produce 60 mature eggs—considered excessive even by industry standards—but told her this was “great news,” despite her discomfort. During the retrieval, the doctor (a leading infertility specialist who has written articles on safety protocols) nicked her artery, causing internal bleeding. Despite the fact that Sindy complained of pain, dizziness and other symptoms, the doctor tried to send her home. Luckily, Sindy insisted on being admitted to the hospital. She was found to be bleeding internally and after surgery to repair the damage, was admitted to the ICU. The doctor said that she must have a “genetic blood disorder”; although medical tests did not reveal this. If Sindy had taken doctors’ advice, she would have died.
There are many cases like Sindy’s. There are also cases of numerous deaths to cancer within years after following the procedure. Dr. Schneider’s daughter, Jessica, was a Stanford student and also a former egg donor. After helping several infertile couples create the families they desperately desired, Jessica was diagnosed with an extremely aggressive case of colon cancer—with no family history of the disease--and died at the age of 31. Various cancers, including breast, uterine and ovarian have been associated with the use of hormones, such as the fertility drugs used in egg-harvesting.
We oppose AB 926 for these and the following reasons:
Egg harvesting uses powerful drugs (including some unapproved by the FDA for these purposes) to both suppress and hyper-stimulate a woman’s endocrine system to produce large numbers of mature eggs. The most well documented side effect of egg harvesting is ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, which can cause organ damage, ovarian rupture, and in rare instances death.
Supporters of AB926 argue that the bill creates “equity for women,” so that those who provide eggs for research would get compensated similarly to women who provide eggs for fertility purposes. The bill does not promote fairness. It is primarily about helping researchers compete for eggs to be used in their research. Before expanding the market in human eggs it is important to collect data on safety and risks so that women can make informed decisions.
AB926 supporters contend that existing laws and regulations are adequate to protect women from being unfairly exploited or enticed by compensation. Yet they provide no evidence or analysis to back this assertion. Low-income women may feel particular pressure to risk their health in order to pay living expenses, tuition, etc.
Supporters of AB926 assert that research is suffering due to “lack of needed tissues” and that research using women’s eggs will ultimately help women with cancer and help improve infertility treatment. However, there is substantial evidence to suggest that the drugs and procedures used for egg harvesting and retrieval actually increase cancer risks and infertility in previously healthy women. At least 10 scientific studies have found increased cancer rates among women who have undergone ovarian stimulation.
AB926 supporters contend that current laws deny a woman’s “fundamental ability to make informed decisions.” This is not the case. Without sufficient information or studies on the short-term and long-term health risks of egg harvesting and retrieval – including the use of potentially dangerous hormones – it is not possible for women to make an informed decision. Before proceeding with a potentially dangerous bill, adequate research needs to be conducted on the risks of egg-harvesting and retrieval.
Egg-harvesting is potentially life-threatening in both the short- and long-term. Egg donors have suffered kidney damage and damage to other internal organs, nicked arteries and internal bleeding, complications of ovarian hyper-stimulation syndrome (OHSS), and various cancers. Before asking women to become lab rats in the name of scientific research, reliable research needs to be done to prove that egg harvesting is safe. Ask Governor Brown to veto AB926. It is bad for women, and bad for California.
Organizations opposing AB 926 include:
Alliance for Humane Biotechnology
Black Women’s Health Imperative
Breast Cancer Action
Cancer Prevention and Treatment Fund
Center for Genetics and Society
Council for Responsible Genetics
Friends of the Earth
International Center for Technology Assessment
National Women’s Health Network
Our Bodies, Ourselves
Pro-ChoiceAlliance for Responsible Research
We are Egg Donors
Copyright 2007 • Alliance for Humane Biotechnology • All rights reserved