The Magazine

Jerry Brown Refuses to Scramble Eggs

Aug 26, 2013, Vol. 18, No. 47 • By THE SCRAPBOOK
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With California governor Jerry Brown’s having just signed a transgender-rights bill requiring public schools to permit boys who believe they are girls to use female lavatories and locker rooms (and vice-versa), perhaps The Scrapbook can be excused for expecting that he would also sign a bill, passed overwhelmingly by the heavily Democratic legislature, allowing biotech companies to buy eggs from women for use in human cloning and other experiments. 

The proposal isn’t benign. As our contributor Wesley J. Smith noted a few months back in these pages (“Eggs for Sale?” May 20), egg extraction can be dangerous to the supplier’s health: “Potential side effects include infection, the swelling of ovaries to the size of a melon, infertility, stroke, some cancers, and, in rare cases, even death.” Talk about a potential war on women!

So you can imagine our surprise when Brown—now the most conservative California statewide government officeholder, believe it or not—vetoed the measure. And pinch us: But we couldn’t agree more with his veto message:

Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be. This bill would legalize the payment of money in exchange for women submitting to invasive procedures to stimulate, extract and harvest her eggs for scientific research. .  .  . 

In medical procedures of this kind, genuinely informed consent is difficult because the long term risks are not adequately known. Putting thousands of dollars on the table only compounds the problem.

Six years ago, the Legislature, by near unanimity, enacted the prohibition that this bill now seeks to reverse. After careful review of the materials which both supporters and opponents submitted, I do not find sufficient reason to change course.

We would like to think that reading The Weekly Standard helped Brown come to the right conclusion, but let’s not get carried away. Still, credit where credit is due. Brown took a principled stand against the commodification of female reproductive capacities in the face of special interest pressure. It’s the rare day when we can say this, but “Bravo, Jerry!”

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