By Hilary White

  LONDON, February 23, 2007 ( – The UK’s Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA), widely considered among the most permissive regulatory agencies in the world, has given permission for women to receive payment for “expenses” related to their donating of ova for artificial fertility treatments. Cloning experiments are also ongoing in Britain and carry a huge demand for ova.

  The HFEA declared that women would be able to claim up to £250 in expenses and participate in “egg-sharing” schemes in which they will receive reduced rates for fertility treatments in exchange for their ova.

  The BBC quotes Angela McNab, chief executive of the HFEA, who said, “Given that the medical risks for donating for research are no higher than for treatment, we have concluded that it is not for us to remove a woman’s choice of how her donated eggs should be used.”

  Ethicists have long warned that the demand for embryos, whether cloned for experiments or conceived in vitro, would create a parallel demand for women’s ova, enormous numbers of which will be required for large-scale cloning experiments to go forward. Some ethicists who favour the experimental creation of human clones have warned of the danger of exploitation of poor women for their ova.

  The UK’s Society for the Protection of Unborn Children, condemned the decision saying, it was “unethical, dangerous and unnecessary.”

“For poorer women, this amount will be an incentive to donate their eggs,” said Anthony Ozimic, SPUC political secretary. “The HFEA will in effect allow financial incentives for people to undergo risky procedures for the benefit of research, which is exploitative.”

  Ozimic said, “To sell oneself, or parts of oneself, leads to devaluing of human beings. Human beings must be valued as persons; we are not commodities. It will be the poor and disadvantaged who will be attracted by this kind of financial reward. Exploiting vulnerable people is patently unethical.”

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