Burke Introduces Pay Equity Bill for Reproductive Research

For immediate release:

AB 2531 lifts the ban on compensation for egg donation in medical research

SACRAMENTO – Today, Assemblywoman Autumn R. Burke (D-Inglewood) introduced AB 2531, which ends the prohibition on compensation for women participating in oocyte (egg) donation for medical research.  The bill establishes parity in California's medical research arena where all other research subjects can be compensated for their participation in research studies.

"It's perfectly legal for a woman to get paid when advertising through Craigslist to provide eggs for infertile couples, but she can't get paid for a donation in medical research," said Burke.  "It's insulting to women, and it keeps California's research institutions in the dark ages.  Instead of leading the way on women's health, we're stuck behind 47 other states all because of a misguided ban that assumes women shouldn't be allowed to make their own decisions."

Clinical research participants are routinely compensated for their participation, with one exception – women when providing oocytes for research.  In place since 2006, the prohibition has had a chilling impact on reproductive research in California.  Without the ability to offer compensation, researchers are unable to recruit participants.  One institution spent $100,000 on outreach and was only able to recruit a single participant.

"We are pleased that Assemblywoman Burke has introduced this very important legislation," stated Rick Paulson, MD, President-elect of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.  "It is vital that California maintain its status as a leader in biomedical research, and as a state that protects women's ability to make their own decisions."

AB 2531 allows a woman participating in research to be paid for her time, discomfort, and inconvenience in the same manner as other research subjects.  Existing California law already requires an extensive review by both human subject research panels and institutional review boards to ensure that participants are educated about their rights, the risks of participation, and provided necessary health care and services before, during, and after treatment.  Those same protections will remain in place if AB 2531 becomes law.

"The California Hepatitis C Task Force supports an equitable approach to improve access to scientific, stem cell, bio-medical research for transplantation and the development of treatments and cures from persons donating their eggs, bone marrow, blood, specimens, tissues and organs, said Bill Remak, Chairman of the California Hepatitis C Task Force.  "Impeding the altruistic donation by denying an appropriate and reasonable compensation for expenses to the donor constitutes an unreasonable disincentive to participate.

AB 2531 is sponsored by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine.  The bill will go through its first policy committee hearing later this spring.