A California bill seeks to extend to privately funded laboratories a provision under Proposition 71 that says scientists receiving state embryonic stem cell research funds can reimburse egg donors only for their expenses and cannot pay egg donors, the Los Angeles Times reports (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 9/13). State voters in November 2004 approved Proposition 71 to provide $295 million annually for 10 years for human embryonic stem cell research (Kaiser Daily Women's Health Policy Report, 7/21). The bill -- sponsored by state Sens. Deborah Ortiz (D) and George Runner (R) -- also would broaden informed consent requirements for those who donate their eggs for embryonic stem cell research and will pertain only to research laboratories and not to fertility clinics, the Times reports. Emily Galpren, director of health and human rights for the Oakland, Calif-based Center for Genetics and Society, said that without the restrictions, poor and minority women could be exploited for viable eggs (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 9/13). According to Laurie Zoloth of Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, payments to egg donors would take advantage of women whose economic situations could affect their judgment about the risks associated with the harvesting procedure. Some stem cell researchers say that paying donors is fair because of the discomfort, time and health risks associated with the procedure (Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 9/13). In addition, opponents of the measure argue that it is "paternalistic" to believe that women cannot make informed decisions on their own, the Times reports. Ann Kiessling, director of the Bedford Stem Cell Research Foundation in Massachusetts, said the payment restrictions would not guarantee that women are not exploited. She added that women are "only going to be protected by good medical care and fully informed consent. How well they're cared for is independent of whether they're going to be compensated." The measure was approved by the state Legislature and has been sent to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) for consideration (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 9/13).

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