California Governor Jerry Brown (D) had an inconsistent week. On Monday, August 12, he signed a bill allowing boys to use girls’ restrooms in all California public schools. The next day, he vetoed a bill to legalize the selling and buying of human eggs (oocytes) for research.
By signing the first law, Governor Brown endangered the privacy and protection of school-age girls (and boys). With the veto, the governor is protecting women from exploitation, especially those in financial need.
Governor Brown signed the transgender bathroom bill that now permits students to “use facilities consistent with his or her gender identity, irrespective of the gender listed on the pupil’s records.” This law includes locker rooms, where there is real concern for privacy in showers and changing areas. This new law disregards students’ genuine need of privacy.
While women in California remain free to sell their eggs to fertility clinics, the vetoed bill would have allowed research facilities to purchase excess eggs and embryos from fertility clinics and directly compensate women for egg retrieval for scientific study. As some opponents pointed out, the proposal could have created an incentive for fertility clinics to retrieve more oocytes and create more embryos than needed, exacerbating already increasing concerns about the exploitation of women for their eggs.
The buying and selling of human eggs is a multibillion-dollar industry in the U.S., which some argue makes its money by exploiting healthy young women. Egg harvesting requires the use of medications to induce hyperovulation, but the medications’ short-term and long-term effects are relatively unknown.
Selling and buying eggs has the danger of exploiting women in financial need. Most women who “donate” their eggs for large compensation are often poor or deeply indebted. Almost all advertisements seeking women willing to sell their eggs are in poor neighborhoods or on college campuses.
“Not everything in life is for sale nor should it be,” remarked Governor Jerry Brown in his veto message of the bill. Regrettably, the common sense he displayed in protecting women from possible exploitation was not employed in his decision to create genderless bathrooms that disregard the privacy and safety of girls.