29 Sept. 2013
A Question of Ethics: Egg Harvesting for Stem Cell Research
Stem cell research brings to mind cloning, treatments for disease, and other positive things. What you don’t think about are the women affected through the harvesting of the embryotic eggs required to conduct this research. Dr. Diane Beeson’s article “Egg Harvesting for Stem Cell Research: Medical Risks and Ethical Problems” illustrates the issues of short and long-term effects of ovarian stimulation, risks to offspring, and the exploitation of women. She uses this information to develop an argument against the use of unauthorized and unstudied drugs and the misleading language ...view middle of the document...
We get a look into several studies linking ovarian cancer to ovarian stimulation. Dr. Beeson explains that follow-ups from cases in the 1960’s were in such a narrow time frame that the women who first used drugs approved in that era while in their late 20’s and 30’s have only recently reached the age when hormonally related cancers are common. Extending the length of a follow-up to nearly 20 years has yielded evidence of a possible association between the drug use and uterine cancer (Beeson and Lippman). Dr. Beeson uses credible data and resources making her argument stronger as she explains the more serious effects of egg harvesting.
Her play on emotions begins with data pulled from reports illustrating the negative effects on offspring. These effects include growth retardation and an increase in rib abnormalities. She issues out a plea that the answers to the questions concerning these findings should be answered before more women are exposed to ovarian stimulation solely for research purposes (Beeson and Lippman).
Dr. Beeson also delves into the issue of conflicts of interest. She says that economic pressures encourage researchers and research advocates to overlook or play down risks to egg providers (Beeson and Lippman). An example would be the physician harvesting the eggs also being involved in the research. In these cases women are left vulnerable to the pressures to provide eggs, especially when payment of any kind is offered (Beeson and Lippman). She illustrates a scandal involving American researchers and a Korean scientist named Hwang Woo-suk in which Hwang lied about the results of his research studies. He used well over 2000 eggs without creating a viable clone. It was also revealed that payment, coercion and lying were used to acquire the eggs first reported to have been eagerly donated by participating women (Beeson and Lippman). She also states...