California Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed a proposed law that would have allowed payments to women who give their eggs to scientific researchers, a move that may deter other states from attempting to ease similar bans.
The measure gained attention in May after an Oregon researcher, Shoukhrat Mitalipov, published a paper showing that he could derive stem cell lines from cloned human embryos. Mitalipov paid the women who donated the eggs US$3,000–7,000 apiece, removing a significant bottleneck in the cloning process: the availability of human eggs, which must be harvested in a time-consuming and uncomfortable procedure.
In his veto message on 13 August, Brown cited ethical concerns: “Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be,” Brown wrote. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine in Birmingham, Alabama, co-sponsored the proposed law. A coalition of conservative and watchdog groups opposed it and lauded the veto.
“It would be unconscionable to expand the commercial market in women’s eggs without obtaining significantly more information about the risks of retrieving them,” said Diane Tober, associate executive director at the Center for Genetics and Society in Oakland, California, in a statement.
Even if Brown had signed the proposed law, separate rules still prohibit the state’s California Institute for Regenerative Medicine from funding research on stem cell lines created with eggs from paid donors. The agency’s leadership has asked for an amendment of those rules, but that move is stalled for now.