Legal Periodical: Should Women Be Paid for Donating Their Eggs for Human Embryo Research?

Skene, Loane, Should Women Be Paid for Donating Their Eggs for Human Embryo Research? (August 3, 2011). Monash Bioethics Review, Vol. 28, No. 4, 2009; U of Melbourne Legal Studies Research Paper No. 552. Available at SSRN:


This paper considers the arguments that might be advanced in favor of paying women who donate eggs for research and some responses to those who argue that payment should be prohibited. The tradition in medical research in all Australian jurisdictions, as in the UK and Canada, has been that all tissue used in research should be donated gratuitously, including human eggs and embryos. This is also the law in those countries. Payments and other inducements are not permitted beyond reasonable expenses, such as the reimbursement of the donors’ medical expenses and compensation for loss of earnings due to the donation. European countries also disapprove of ‘commercialization’ of human tissue or obtaining financial gains from the donation of human reproductive materials. In the US, on the other hand, there is no federal legislation governing the sale of human eggs. They may be sold for a ‘fair price’ for use of fertility programs, except in states that have legislative restrictions on the sale of eggs for use in research. With the development of human embryo research, there may be increasing demand for human eggs. Perhaps we should consider whether it is necessary always to prohibit payment or other ‘rewards’ for egg donors.