REALity July 2018 Ottawa, ON
In 1990, a Royal Commission on new Medical Technologies was established. After spending $28 million, the Commission tabled its 1,271 page, two volume report in November, 1993. Among its many recommendations, the Royal Commission recommended that no financial payments be made for sperm and egg donations and that commercial surrogacy (the carrying of a child for another person with the intention of surrendering the child at birth to that person) be prohibited. Voluntary surrogacy for benevolent reasons, however, was permitted. The Royal Commission did recommend that receipted expenses incurred by the surrogate carrying the pregnancy be allowed. The reason given for the prohibition against commercial surrogacy and the sale of sperm and eggs was to prevent, in effect, the sale of human life, which was contrary to the public interest. Based on the recommendations of the Royal Commission, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act was passed in 2004. This Act specifically prohibited the sale of eggs and sperm and commercial surrogacy.
In 2010, part of this Assisted Human Reproduction Act was struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada in a legal challenge brought by the province of Quebec. It argued that parts of the Act were unconstitutional because reproduction was a provincial health matter rather than a federal matter. The Supreme Court agreed with much of Quebec’s arguments but remained firm that the federal government had jurisdiction over the sale of eggs and sperm and could prohibit commercial surrogacy.
Amendments to the Act Proposed by Liberal MP Anthony Housefather
On May 28, 2018, Liberal MP, Anthony Housefather (Mount Royal, Quebec), in a private member’s Bill, C-404, proposed amendments to the Reproduction Act to permit payment for the sale of eggs and sperm, and to permit legal commercial surrogacy.
If Bill C-404 is passed, it will result in women being degraded and exploited, especially underprivileged women in need of money, who will become a “breeder class”. The wealthy can buy, but the poor can only sell their reproductive capacity by renting their wombs. The medical care of such women is not subject to usual oversight, and medically adverse health effects are frequently overlooked. Further, by this process, the child becomes commodified when it is purchased for a price, and the child/parent relationship is corrupted by this commercial process of giving birth to a child but surrendering the child to others for a price.
Surrogacy is the manufacturing of babies for adults and makes babies commercially viable products – in effect, chattel. These children also become the centre of a largely unregulated fertility industry that generates billions of dollars carrying out these procedures. The profit driven fertility centres also frequently obtain a number of extra embryos that are required for implantation in order to ensure a “perfect” embryo, i.e. one that has no abnormalities. If there are any, the embryo is destroyed. Also, some of the unused embryos are frozen, which leads to frequent breakage or failure to divide after thawing, which causes the death of such embryos. That is, embryos become an easily disposable product, without respect for their innate dignity as human life. They are treated only as useful, saleable products.
In Canada, sperm donors are limited to screening for infectious diseases and insuring safety. Moreover, sperm donors all too frequently are not truthful about their health status or other background characteristics, such as education, drug abuse, criminal history, infectious diseases, etc. Fear of losing the payment will only serve as an incentive to “shade” the truth.
In 2015 the European Parliament invoked a ban against surrogacy because surrogacy is “exploitation of the female body and reproductive organs”). In October, 2016 the 47 member Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) rejected (for the third time) legalizing surrogacy throughout Europe. 110,000 citizens in Europe had signed a petition requesting that PACE condemn all forms of surrogacy as being against the best interests of children. Prohibition was a rational response to the intense problems of surrogacy.
Mainstream Media Push Commercial Surrogacy
The mainstream media frequently publish stories about ecstatic parents holding a child obtained through surrogacy. The media, however, keep the curtain drawn on the ugly truth about surrogacy and its commercialization. They hide not only the exploitation of vulnerable women, but also the awful situation of children born from these donated gametes. Such children are cut off from their biological families and their genetic origins. They call themselves “genetic orphans” as half of them is shrouded in mystery. The best interests of the child are certainly ignored by surrogacy, as the “best interests” of the parents is the only consideration.
We cannot allow the commercialization of reproduction, which is the objective of MP Housefather’s Bill C-404. It must be stopped.
Please write to the Minister of Health and your MP objecting to this bill.
Please write to:
The Honourable Ginette Petitpas Taylor
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Canada K1A 0A6
c/o House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6