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Canadian crash victim awarded damages to pay for surrogacy

08 May 2017

By Nina Chohan

Appeared in BioNews 899

A Canadian woman has been awarded $100,000 in damages to pay for a surrogate in a precedent-setting legal case.

The payout formed part of the Canadian $3.83 million from the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) awarded to Mikaela Wilhelmson by the British Columbia Supreme Court.

The judgment sets a precedent because in Canada commercial surrogacy is against the law (see BioNews 897). However, it is not illegal to travel to the United States and pay a surrogate there, which many Canadian women have successfully done.

In 2011, Ms Wilhelmson was the sole survivor of a high-speed motor vehicle collision, as a result of which she sustained critical injuries and had to undergo 20 surgeries.

Five years after the collision Ms Wilhelmson became pregnant, but was unable to carry the child to term due to the damage in her spine and internal organs. Her lawyer, Conrad Margolis, stated that even though Ms Wihelmson is fertile, it would unsafe and practically impossible for her to have a successful pregnancy due to the amount of scar tissue in her abdomen.

In her decision, Justice Neena Sharma stated: 'I also find as a fact that Ms Wilhelmson would be putting her health and welfare at great risk, to an unreasonable degree, if she were to carry a baby. I have no doubt that the best option for Ms Wilhelmson to have a biological child would be to hire a surrogate'.

Justice Sharma found that both parties agreed that the loss of Ms Wilhelmson's ability to carry her own child was compensable and further noted that eminent obstetrician-gynecologist Dr Albert Yuzpe 'testified about the approximate cost involved in hiring a surrogate in the United States. These estimates were not successfully challenged by the defense… I find that an award at the low end of this range is appropriate and award $100,000 for surrogacy fees for two pregnancies'.

Whether or not ICBC will appeal this ruling is unknown at this time.

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

07 August 2006 - by Dr Kirsty Horsey 
New Zealand's Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) has ruled that a woman who was left without a womb after going into hospital to have a baby is entitled to compensation to cover the cost of using a surrogate to carry a child for her. The ACC will...
02 July 2001 - by BioNews 
Patricia Briody has been told by the Court of Appeal that she will not be awarded the costs of a surrogate pregnancy. Last year, the High Court awarded the 48 year old £90,000 damages for negligence against the health authority whose treatment had left her infertile in her twenties, but...
25 January 2000 - by BioNews 
A ruling in the High Court has not allowed Patricia Briody to receive damages to pay for a surrogate child. Patricia Briody was left infertile by the clinical negligence of a St Helens and Knowsley Health Authority hospital 26 years ago, when two pregnancies ended in stillborn children and an...
13 December 1999 - by BioNews 
Two of UK's leading fertility specialists clashed at the High Court last week in a landmark case in which a woman is seeking damages to pay for a surrogate birth. Forty-six year old Patricia Briody is claiming compensation from Helens & Knowsley Health Authority over a medical blunder that left her...

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