No Job? Need Money? Sell Your Eggs!

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The Washington Post reports that Barack Obama's reversal of George W. Bush's stem cell research policy is finally paying dividends -- to women in New York.

New York has become the first state to allow taxpayer-funded researchers to pay women for giving their eggs for embryonic stem cell research, a move welcomed by many scientists but condemned by critics who fear it will lead to the exploitation of vulnerable women.

The opportunity for women to sell their eggs is not exactly new. I remember seeing ads in my college newspaper soliciting pretty, blond, skinny, Ivy League educated women to sell their eggs. These eggs were then presumably marketed to couples who can't conceive on their own, but were willing to pay a lot for eggs with good genes. The idea of a woman selling her eggs creeped me out then, and it still creeps me out now.

But let's be practical. Especially in light of the current healthcare debate, technological advances in stem cell research could do a lot of good. Maybe such advances would drive down medical costs.

In an economy like the one we've got on our hands, however, the idea of women harvesting their eggs for a quick buck seems to raise some difficult moral questions. Especially now, I find it plausible that some women could be so desperate for money that they feel they have few other options and could later regret the decision. It also raises the question: are fetuses next?

Feel free to provide your own utilitarian calculus in . . . three. . . two. . . one. . .!

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Daniel Indiviglio was an associate editor at The Atlantic from 2009 through 2011. He is now the Washington, D.C.-based columnist for Reuters Breakingviews. He is also a 2011 Robert Novak Journalism Fellow through the Phillips Foundation. More

Indiviglio has also written for Forbes. Prior to becoming a journalist, he spent several years working as an investment banker and a consultant.
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