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Stem cell lawyer says let women be paid for egg donations

Media Release, Tuesday 7 July 2009

Last week, New York became the first state in America to allow scientists to pay women for donating their eggs for use in stem cell research, triggering further ethical debate.

Professor Loane Skene of the Faculty of Law at the University of Melbourne and Deputy Chair of the high-profile Lockhart Committee on Human Cloning and Embryo Research (2005) says women should be paid for the invasive procedure.

“This is not lawful in Australia but if embryo research leads to new cures, this ban may be reconsidered,” Professor Skene says.

“Given the invasiveness of extracting eggs for donation to medical research, it seems reasonable for women to receive some financial compensation, “ she says.

Professor Skene says that although other organ donation is free in Australia, typically organs are donated to a family member or friend. “It is unusual that organ donation is done for a complete stranger. For the effort of undergoing surgery to help medical research, I think it is appropriate for women to be remunerated.”

“We would be living in a nanny state if we said women may be exploited for being paid for the procedure,” she says.

“People undertake risky jobs every day. This is no different to a consenting adult who knows the risks of surgery making an informed decision.”

“When there is a breakthrough in stem cell research we will find this will be the impetus for new laws. It will reflect the push from scientists and government to be able to further investigate revolutionary treatments in this emerging field.”

“Stem cell research is going to be a very competitive field. It is still very early days.”

Professor Skene will outline social, ethical and regulatory issues raised by developments in stem cell research and explore legal responses in Australia and globally, at the 4th David Danks Oration at the University of Melbourne on Tuesday 7 July.

WHAT: Public Lecture “Recent developments in stem cell research: social, ethical and legal issues for the future”
WHEN: 6:00 - 7:00pm, Tuesday 7 July 2009
WHERE: Sunderland Lecture Theatre, ground floor, Medical Building, corner of Grattan Street and Royal Parade, The University of Melbourne, Parkville (Melways reference: Map 2B C7)

RSVP and further information: mdhs-rsvp@unimelb.edu.au (03) 8344 9800 www.mdhs.unimelb.edu.au

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