Surrogates, Egg and Sperm Donors
SELECT MEDIA ARTICLES
- Barankevych, A. (30 May 2018). Bill C-404: How will it change surrogacy in Canada? Nelligan O'Brien Payne LLP [blog].
- Weeks, C. (29 May 2018). Liberal MP's private-members bill would lift restrictions on third-party reproduction. The Globe and Mail.
- Buzzetti, H. (29 Mar 2018). Mères porteuses: sus à la rémunération! Le Devoir.
- Lee, Shuyee. (28 Mar 2018). Liberal MP Anthony Housefather wants to make it legal for surrogate moms, sperm donors to get paid. CJAD 800 FM.
- Harris, K. (27 Mar 2018). Liberal MPs, advocates want to legalize fees for surrogate moms and sperm donors. CBC.
- Blackwell, T. (13 Mar 2013). 'Business has boomed': Canadian surrogacy agent facing 27 charges continues her controversial work. National Post.
- Blackwell, T. (15 Feb 2013). Illegal purchase of sperm, eggs and surrogacy services leads to 27 charges against Canadian fertility company and CEO.
- Motluk, A. (Apr 2010). The Human Egg Trade. The Walrus.
- Baylis, F., & Cattapan, A. (2 Apr 2018). Paying surrogates, sperm and egg donors goes against Canadian values. The Conversation. Re-published 6 Apr 2018. Impact Ethics.
- Baylis, F. (2 Apr 2018). Let's ask a different question about surrogacy. Impact Ethics.
- Coeytux, F., Darnovsky, M., Berke Fogel, S. & Galpern, E. (21 Dec 2017). New ART regulations require feminist voices. Impact Ethics.
- Cattapan, A., & Baylis, F. (27 Sept 2017). Egg donors and surrogates need high-quality care. The Conversation.
- Cattapan, A., Cameron, A. & Gruben, V. (24 July 2017). When women are surrogate mothers: Is that work? The Conversation.
- Su, Yegang. (15 Mar 2017). Public opinion on legalizing surrogacy in China. Impact Ethics.
- Cattapan, A. (18 Nov 2016). Clarifying the AHR Act after 12 long years. Impact Ethics.
- White, P. (28 Sept 2016). Hidden from view: Canadian surrogacy. Impact Ethics.
- Lippman, A. (3 Oct 2016). Words matter: "Hired Womb" vs. "Birth Mother". Impact Ethics.
- Gruben, V. (6 Jul 2016). CFAS Guidelines on third party reproduction. Impact Ethics.
- White, P. (14 Apr 2016). Canada is a booming foreign surrogacy destination. Impact Ethics.
- Gerber, P. (17 Feb 2016). Making commercial surrogacy illegal only makes aspiring parents go elsewhere. The Conversation.
- Snow, D. (13 May 2015). Manufacturing consensus on commercial surrogacy. Impact Ethics.
- Busby, K. (3 Feb 2015). Is it time to legalize commercial surrogacy in Canada? Impact Ethics.
- Deveaux, M. (26 Nov 2014). Is cross-border egg donation exploitative? Impact Ethics.
- L’Espérance, A. (22 Jul 2014). SThe contentious issue of surrogacy in Québec. Impact Ethics.
- L’Espérance, A. (19 Jun 2014). Socializing access to fertility treatments in Québec. Impact Ethics.
- Burns, C., Cool, R. & Falter, S. (11 Jul 2013). We are egg donors. Impact Ethics.
- Baylis, F. & Downie, J. (17 Dec 2013). Wishing doesn't make it so. Impact Ethics.
- Cohen, S. (29 Aug 2013). Post-Pratten proposal. Impact Ethics.
- Overall, C. (18 Jul 2013). "Surrogacy" and parental licensing. Impact Ethics.
- Snow, D., Baylis, F., and Downie, J. (2015). Why the government of Canada won’t regulate assisted human reproduction: A modern mystery. McGill Journal of Law and Health, 9(1), 1-15.
- Baylis, F., Downie, J. (2014). Achieving national altruistic self-sufficiency in human eggs for third-party reproduction in Canada. International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, 7(2):164-184.
- Baylis, F., Downie, J. & Snow, D. (2014). Fake it till you make it: Policymaking and assisted human reproduction in Canada. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, 36(6):510-512.
- Downie, J. & Baylis, F. (2013). The tale of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada: A tragedy in five acts. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law, 25(2):183-201.
- Motluk, A. (18 Dec 2013). First Prosecution Under Assisted Human Reproduction Act Ends in Conviction. CMAJ News.
- Downie, J. & Baylis, F. (2013). Transnational trade in human eggs: Law, policy and (in)action in Canada [PDF - 313 KB]. The Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, 41(1): 224-239.
- Baylis, F. (26 Apr 2013). Legal schmegal: who cares what the AHR law says? [PDF - 1.8 MB]. ARTs and Canadian Public Policy Today: A Feminist Conversation, Toronto, ON, Canada.
SELECT POLICY CONTRIBUTIONS
- Baylis, F., & Cattapan, A. (1 Sept 2017). Letter to Minister Taylor explaining critical commentary on Toward a Strengthened Assisted Human Reproduction Act: A Consultation with Canadians on Key Policy Proposals.
- Baylis, F., & Cattapan, A. (31 Aug 2017). Commentary on Toward a Strengthened Assisted Human Reproduction Act: A Consultation with Canadians on Key Policy Proposals.
- Baylis, F. & Downie, J. (27 Nov 2016). Letter to Minister Philpott and critical commentary on Health Canada's plan to introduce regulations to support the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.
- Cattapan, A. (25 Nov 2016). Letter to Minister Philpott and critical commentary on the prepublication (notice of intent) of regulatory proposals to bring sections 10, 12, and 45 to 58 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act.
Canadian law on Assisted Human Reproduction prohibits payments for reproductive services and materials, but permits reimbursements for receipted expenditures, in accordance with the regulations. In March 2018, Mr. Anthony Housefather, Liberal Member of Parliament, announced that he would introduce a private member’s bill to remove the criminal prohibition on payments for surrogacy, eggs, and sperm. The bill was introduced May 29, 2018.
This initiative has introduced much confusion and many inaccurate statements about the facts relevant to payments and reimbursements. In an effort to dispel false information and to help Canadians who may want to participate in the debate, a group of experts with varied backgrounds and interests have published a FACT SHEET on Proposed Changes to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act [PDF - 386 KB].
The 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act) prohibits payment for surrogacy, payment to intermediaries to arrange for the services of a surrogate, and the purchase of human reproductive material.
On December 13, 2013 Leia Picard, a Canadian fertility agency owner, became the first person to be prosecuted under the AHR Act. Picard admitted to paying surrogates, taking money to arrange surrogacies, and purchasing eggs (R v. Picard and Canadian Fertility Consulting Ltd); for this, the court imposed a fine of $60,000. According to the Agreed Statement of Facts [PDF - 3.2 MB] in the case involving Ms. Picard, while there were no regulations in place at the time, there was a “Health Canada policy” regarding permissible reimbursement of expenditures to surrogates and donors. When Jocelyn Downie and Françoise Baylis sent a letter [PDF - 104 KB] asking about this so-called “policy,” Health Canada’s response referenced two pages [PDF - 76 KB] on its website.
Leia Picard (now Leia Swanberg) is among the fertility brokers advising Mr. Housefather. “Swanberg says that, since she was charged, her business has quadrupled.”
In 1993, the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies strongly condemned the commercialization of human reproductive material. It stated that “No profit should be made from the selling of any reproductive material … because of its ultimately dehumanizing effects,” and recommended a criminal ban on payments (or advertising payments) for human sperm, eggs, and embryos, as well as payment for contract pregnancy (surrogacy).
In the Canadian parliamentary debates leading up to the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act), there was all-party agreement against the commercialization of human reproduction. This is reflected in criminal prohibitions in the AHR Act which make it illegal to pay “consideration” to a “surrogate mother,” or to an “intermediary” in a surrogacy arrangement, and to purchase sperm or eggs from a “donor” (sections 6 and 7 of the AHR Act). The legislation also includes provisions in section 12 to allow – in accordance with regulations – reimbursements for receipted “expenditures” to cover out-of-pocket costs to sperm and egg donors as well as surrogates.
Fourteen years after the Act came into force, Health Canada is finally drafting the regulations on expenditures. A recent initiative by Mr. Housefather (a Liberal member of the Canadian Parliament) threatens to undermine this effort.
On March 27, 2018 at a press conference in Montréal, Mr. Housefather announced that he will file a private member's bill in the spring of 2018 to de-criminalize payments for human sperm, eggs, and surrogacy.
A few days later, in an interview on CBC Information Morning (Nova Scotia), Françoise Baylis warned that Mr. Housefather’s plan strikes at the social fabric of Canada. She noted that removing the prohibition on payments contravenes Canadian values that would keep human body parts out of the commercial marketplace with attendant risks of exploitation and coercion. Alana Cattapan, also interviewed by CBC, pointed out that we don't have research to show whether the ban on payment for surrogacy is or is not exploitative. [Read more on whether there is a link between payment and exploitation]. Cattapan noted that if the perceived problem is that not enough women volunteer to be surrogates, there are other ways to address this problem. She cited the examples of blood and organ donation practices in Canada that incentivize donors without involving monetary payment. Cattapan further stated that most surrogates want better patient care and clear regulations on what is eligible for reimbursement. "Receiving money on top of that is secondary. All of the other parts are more important," she said.
Both Cattapan and Baylis support Health Canada's recent efforts to strengthen the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act by introducing relevant regulations and have stated that Housefather's bill could potentially undermine Health Canada's work in this regard.
As Cattapan has noted, we legislate in this area as a means to help prevent worst case scenarios of commercialization of the human body. Keeping payments for human sperm, eggs, as well as pregnancy contracts a criminal activity is a way of continuing to provide the federal government with a "foothold" for having regulations to control these practices. Listen to Cattapan's interview "Is legalizing fees for surrogate moms and sperm and egg donors the right way to go?" on the Simi Sara show (Global) and Baylis' interview "Dal bioethicist has warnings about proposed change to federal laws around paying for eggs, sperm…" on Information Morning Nova Scotia (CBC). Also available is a taped debate between Françoise Baylis and Anthony Housefather (Canadian Member of Parliament) on the topic of payment for surrogate mothers (Maritime Noon show, CBC Radio, 26 Apr 2018).
Page last updated Spring 2018.