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In December 2006, the International Society for Stem Cell Research (ISSCR)—a scientific membership organisation for stem cell scientists, laboratories and biotechnology companies—released its Guidelines for the conduct of human embryonic stem cell research (hereafter the ISSCR Guidelines).1 One of the ethically controversial issues addressed therein is financial compensation for women who provide eggs used to create research embryos for stem cell science. Significantly, this issue is one of the few on which authors of the ISSCR Guidelines did not readily agree.2 Some argued that altruism alone should motivate women to provide eggs for research and that even reimbursement of direct expenses could result in abuse. Others insisted that it would be both unfair and exploitative to have women …
Françoise Baylis, PhD, FRSC, is a member of the Board of Directors of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada. The views expressed herein are her own.
Research funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.
Competing interests: None declared.
↵ii Human cloning involves the insertion of nuclear DNA from a human somatic cell into an enucleated human egg, which is then activated so that it starts dividing, becoming an embryo from which stem cell lines can be derived.
↵iii For obvious reasons, we follow the ISSCR Guidelines in using the term “providers” rather than “donors” when there is payment involved.
↵iiii To be clear, with a system of altruistic donation that permits reimbursement for direct, receipted expenses (including such things as travel, accommodation and childcare and excluding such things as inconvenience, time, pain and discomfort), any inducement that might occur would not be undue. Such inducement would simply aim to ensure that a woman’s altruistic decision to provide eggs for research did not result in personal financial loss.
- Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority
- International Society for Stem Cell Research
- in vitro fertilisation
- Medical Research Council
- ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome
- Stem Cell Research Oversight
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