Wednesday, May 2, 2018

[Canada] Paying for surrogacy, sperm and human eggs should not be crime | Anthony Housefather | The Star

An interesting opinion piece from Canada by Anthony Housefather on surrogacy and donations (member of the Canadian Parliament for Mount Royal and chairman of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Rights).

“Intended parents and surrogates explain that the criminal prohibitions put them into a constant state of uncertainty,” writes Anthony Housefather. “No wonder parents with means often choose to leave Canada and hire a surrogate in the United States to avoid any concern about facing prison time.”

You can go to jail for up to 10 years if you offer to purchase sperm in Canada. The maximum sentence is on par with certain terrorism offences. Most Canadians are shocked when they hear this. I know that I was.

By comparison, there is no federal law governing the offer to purchase other human materials, such as blood or plasma. These are governed solely by provincial regulations and not criminal law.

Over the last couple of years I have had the opportunity to meet with many of those most directly impacted by the law that criminalizes this activity. It is called the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and was adopted in 2004. It is largely based on proposals from a Royal Commission established in 1988.

Needless to say we live in a different world today. Women wait longer to get pregnant, leading to greater fertility issues. Gay and lesbian couples can get married and want to start families. More and more Canadians need assistance to have children.

While those impacted directly share different perspectives with respect to many of the complex issues involved, the vast majority of surrogates, donors, intended parents, children born of donation and the agencies, doctors and lawyers working to assist them agree with one thing: the current law needs to be revised. I am putting forward a bill to do so.

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