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Canadian government tables reform to assisted reproduction laws

5 November 2018
Appeared in BioNews 974

The Canadian government has proposed updates to existing assisted reproduction law, including payment of expenses to gamete donors and surrogates

The bill proposes changes to the 2004 Assisted Human Reproduction Act that would clarify reimbursement guidelines for sperm and egg donors, reduce the existing lifetime ban on male donors who have had sex with other men to six months, establish procedures regarding administration and enforcement of the act as well as updated the existing consent regulations, including the introduction of a record retention requirement.

'The government of Canada is taking necessary steps to help Canadians who use reproductive technologies to do so safely and with peace of mind,' said health minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor. 'They will also offer couples dealing with infertility, single people, same-sex couples and other members of the LGBTQ2 community flexibility in building their families.'

Currently, surrogates cannot be paid but can be reimbursed for expenses. But as these allowable expenses are not clearly defined, potential surrogates and parents are worried about breaking the law, according to Anthony Housefather, a Liberal MP who has tabled a private member's bill to decriminalise payment of surrogates and gamete donors. Housefather said that the proposed changes do not go far enough: 'We really need to revamp the law and allow the provinces to properly regulate and decriminalise this.' 

However, not everyone takes this view. 'I think they staying true to the principle of the legislation, which is the non-commercialisation of human reproduction,' said Françoise Baylis, the Canada Research Chair in Bioethics at Dalhousie University.

The proposed legislation has not yet passed its first reading in the House of Commons. Public consultation on the proposed regulations has been encouraged by the Canadian government and is set to close on 10 January 2019.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Government of Canada proposes new regulations to support Canadians who use reproductive technologies
Health Canada |  26 October 2018
Liberals pitch new rules on payments for surrogates, sperm donors
CBC News |  26 October 2018
Ottawa proposes partial easing of sperm donation, new surrogacy regulations
The Globe and Mail |  26 October 2018
Trudeau Government Might Ease Some Limits On Surrogacy Payment
HuffPost Canada |  28 October 2018
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