One organization I founded and am very involved with started an international movement called “Hands Off Our Ovaries”. The purpose of HandsOff is to demand an immediate moratorium on using women’s eggs for research because of the known and unknown health risks for these young women. We have been working very closely with groups down under, in Australia to form HandsOff there. Australia currently has a total ban on all human cloning, but fearing they are losing the cutting edge in the ‘arms race’ for human cloning they are voting next month to lift that ban on research cloning–which needs lots and lots of eggs from healthy young women. This is from yesterday’s Australian which highlights the HandsOff efforts down under.
‘Clone threat to women’
WOMEN’S groups and federal MPs have warned that legalising therapeutic cloning will endanger women’s lives and create pressure for them to become “egg factories” to supply the dreams of scientists.
And they have accused cloning advocates of playing down the risks in their enthusiasm to convince parliament to scrap a ban on the research procedure.
A coalition of women’s groups including Women’s Forum Australia yesterday launched the Hands off our Ovaries campaign to pressure MPs to reject a private member’s bill, to be debated next month, which would allow cloning.
The procedure involves injecting adult genetic material into an egg that has had its nucleus removed and then harvesting stem cells from the resulting embryo for research and the creation of disease treatments specific to the individual who provided the genetic material.
Speakers at yesterday’s launch said women represented a forgotten element in the cloning debate because scientists would have to inject them with hormones to produce hundreds of thousands of eggs for the research. The hormones had been shown to cause organ failure, respiratory distress and even death.
“Our lives are not collateral damage on the biotechnology superhighway,” WFA spokeswoman Katrina George told the forum. Ms George said egg extraction should be banned until it was shown that eggs could be obtained without risking the health of women.
Ms George also rejected the idea that animal eggs could be used to avoid the need for harvesting eggs from women. While animal eggs might be used in research, human eggs would be needed to produce treatments for humans.
“Because cloning is impossible without women’s eggs, then the health impact on women is absolutely central to this debate,” she said.
“It’s not a side issue.”
- Jennifer Lahl, MA, BSN, RN, is founder and president of The Center for Bioethics and Culture Network. Lahl couples her 25 years of experience as a pediatric critical care nurse, a hospital administrator, and a senior-level nursing manager with a deep passion to speak for those who have no voice. Lahl’s writings have appeared in various publications including Cambridge University Press, the San Francisco Chronicle, the Dallas Morning News, and the American Journal of Bioethics. As a field expert, she is routinely interviewed on radio and television including ABC, CBS, PBS, and NPR. She is also called upon to speak alongside lawmakers and members of the scientific community, even being invited to speak to members of the European Parliament in Brussels to address issues of egg trafficking; she has three times addressed the United Nations during the Commission on the Status of Women on egg and womb trafficking.