Those who have followed the cloning debate will know that one of the problems faced by cloners is that they need eggs. Not the kind you get from chickens: the kind you get from women. Lots of eggs. In fact, vast quantities of eggs—if ever the mythical "therapeutic cloning" is to be made to work, every "one-on-one medication" would require the killing of an embryo to get its stem cells, and to get one suitable embryo, you need a lot of eggs.

Even to do basic cloning research, you need a lot of them. Dr. Hwang apparently used thousands. Unlike sperm, eggs are hard to get. Women produce very few, and what researchers (and test-tube baby clinics) like to do is give them drugs so that they "superovulate" and produce a whole bunch each time. It sounds simple, but the drugs are powerful hormones. They can have very nasty side effects. One of their side effects is death. You might be prepared to risk your life to have your own baby. Risking it to keep researchers in business is another question, even if they keep claiming they can come up with "cures."

Well, trust the U.K., outpost of the Brave New World, to take a lead. The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority, the government agency that also comes up with policy proposals, wants to change the rule that says women can only donate eggs for research if they are already producing them for infertility. The details are full of assurances and safeguards. But at the end of the day, the combination of cloning/stem cell hype and the fact that many women have relatives with nasty diseases whom they would love to help cure will lead them to risk their health and their lives to feed the demands of hungry researchers.

In reporting the news, the London Times candidly stated: "Egg donation, ...

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Life Matters
Nigel M. de S. Cameron is now president and CEO of the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies. His "Life Matters" column, a commentary on bioethics issues, ran from 2005 to 2006.
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