In Canada, it is illegal to pay a surrogate mother or to purchase human gametes, be it sperm or eggs. This ban is enshrined in the 2004 law on medically assisted procreation. The law stems from a Royal Commission think-tank on new reproduction techniques, which were discussed in “numerous consultations with stakeholders and the general public“, over a “legislative process dating back almost 30 years”. When the law was adopted, “all the parties agreed that payment for surrogacy, sperm and eggs was not the answer”. To put it more precisely, the law banned “the commercialisation of male and female reproductive capacities and the exploitation of children, women and men for commercial purposes”.
The ethical reasons behind this ban include “the need to prevent commercialisation of the human body and the twofold risk of exploitation and coercion”. The law seeks to “ensure that access to reproduction technologies does not pave the way to commercialisation of the body”.
Anthony Housefather, MP for Mont-Royal and Chairman of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights in the Canadian House of Commons is keen to revisit this ban and urges that “Canadians must be able to pay – and be paid – for surrogacy including human sperm and eggs”. He wants to present a draft bill to Parliament along these lines. The MP deems that the law is obsolete and does not take non-traditional families into account. He emphasises the fact that sexual orientation does not pose a legal obstacle and that “Canadian values concerning the payment of body tissues” do not appear to have really changed since 2004.
The Federal Government is maintaining the status quo for the time being: “Assisted procreation legislation is too important for the future of Canadian families to be undermined by a parliamentary draft bill calling for an open human reproduction market”.
The Conversation, Françoise Baylis & Alana Cattapan (03/04/2018)