Wei's testimony followed that of Jennifer Schneider, a physician whose "athletic, non-smoking, vegetarian" daughter developed cancer seven years after she became an egg donor. "I was shocked to learn that no one had ever studied the potential long-term risks of egg donation, especially the risk of high-dose hormones given to healthy young women," she told the room.
AB926 supporters testified that no definitive studies have proved a link between egg donation and cancer. Opponents responded that doctors don't want to know about the downside.
Some fertility doctors "can honestly say they haven't seen any problems," because they do not want to know and never bother to find out, Diane Beeson of the Alliance for Humane Biotechnology told me. A 2007 Institute of Medicine review cited acute and chronic risks from egg donation as it warned that very little is known about the long-term health effects on donors.
A committee analysis cited the 2007 review, yet still the committee passed AB926 by a 6-to-1 vote. That's right, lawmakers know there are risks to egg donation, but they voted to expand the practice anyway.
On Thursday, Bonilla told me that the testimony of Wei, Schneider and others moved her, but it's on the unregulated fertility side, "where you have the issue of enticement." Researchers aren't in it for the money. And: "There's no change with the risk in what my bill is doing. There is risk when you do any kind of research."
Except more women will be enticed to risk their health, as researchers, unlike rich couples, don't care if egg donors have a college degree.
As we talked, Bonilla acknowledged the possible benefits of a registry to log possible side effects on egg donors. "What I've learned from my study on this bill is, we really need more legislation," she said, especially on the fertility side. "I would totally take that kind of bill on myself."
Why wait? This is, after all, a serious women's health issue.
Full disclosure: My husband, Wesley J. Smith, is a consultant for the Center for Bioethics and Culture. The center's president, Jennifer Lahl, has testified against AB926.
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