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Coercion, Commercialization, and Commodification: The Ethics of Compensation for Egg Donors in Stem Cell Research

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Abstract:

Current U.S. guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR) adopted by the National Academy of Sciences and the state of California, like those of many other countries, prohibit compensation of egg donors. In this paper, I explore a variety of justifications for these guidelines, such as preventing coercion of egg donors and commodification and commercialization of their bodies. In prohibiting payments to egg donors based upon these rationales, the guidelines implicitly invoke the rubric of privacy and reject propertization of the human body. Unlike other countries that uniformly prohibit compensation of egg donors in all contexts, however, the U.S. guidelines fail to limit payments to egg donors involved in in vitro fertilization (IVF). Moreover, the U.S. guidelines permit commercialization and commodification by everyone else engaged in hESCR, except for those who provide eggs and other body parts. Thus, the scientists who conduct hESCR and the companies and universities that fund their research are all free to profit. I argue that these inconsistencies and contradictions ultimately undermine the objectives of the U.S. guidelines and reveal that the prohibition upon payment is intended more for political reasons than for substantive ones -- to insulate hESCR from the taint of filthy lucre in the eyes of the public, rather than to actually prevent coercion of egg donors or commodification of human life.
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Name: The Law and Society Association
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http://www.lawandsociety.org


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URL: http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178195_index.html
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MLA Citation:

Rao, Radhika. "Coercion, Commercialization, and Commodification: The Ethics of Compensation for Egg Donors in Stem Cell Research" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany, Jul 25, 2007 <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 <http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178195_index.html>

APA Citation:

Rao, R. , 2007-07-25 "Coercion, Commercialization, and Commodification: The Ethics of Compensation for Egg Donors in Stem Cell Research" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the The Law and Society Association, TBA, Berlin, Germany <Not Available>. 2013-12-15 from http://citation.allacademic.com/meta/p178195_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Abstract: Current U.S. guidelines for human embryonic stem cell research (hESCR) adopted by the National Academy of Sciences and the state of California, like those of many other countries, prohibit compensation of egg donors. In this paper, I explore a variety of justifications for these guidelines, such as preventing coercion of egg donors and commodification and commercialization of their bodies. In prohibiting payments to egg donors based upon these rationales, the guidelines implicitly invoke the rubric of privacy and reject propertization of the human body. Unlike other countries that uniformly prohibit compensation of egg donors in all contexts, however, the U.S. guidelines fail to limit payments to egg donors involved in in vitro fertilization (IVF). Moreover, the U.S. guidelines permit commercialization and commodification by everyone else engaged in hESCR, except for those who provide eggs and other body parts. Thus, the scientists who conduct hESCR and the companies and universities that fund their research are all free to profit. I argue that these inconsistencies and contradictions ultimately undermine the objectives of the U.S. guidelines and reveal that the prohibition upon payment is intended more for political reasons than for substantive ones -- to insulate hESCR from the taint of filthy lucre in the eyes of the public, rather than to actually prevent coercion of egg donors or commodification of human life.

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