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Canada reintroduces ART legislation

16 February 2004
By BioNews
Appeared in BioNews 245

The Canadian federal government has reintroduced its bill on assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and related matters. Last October, bill C-13, entitled 'an Act respecting assisted human reproduction and related research', was passed by the Canadian House of Commons by 149-109 votes, after almost ten years of debate and despite vigorous pro-life opposition.

The Canadian legislation, which must still pass through the Senate to become law, bans human cloning (for both reproductive and therapeutic purposes), the creation of human-animal hybrid embryos, sex selection of embryos for non-medical reasons, payments to women acting as surrogates, payment for donated gametes and the buying or selling of human embryos. It also regulates the collection, alteration, manipulation or treatment of any human reproductive material for the purpose of creating an embryo, storage of reproductive material and information about donors. Under the Act, donors must give fully informed written consent before their gametes or embryos are used, and children born following donation will be entitled to receive medical information about the donors. Donors will be identifiable only if they consent to be so. In addition, the bill allows embryonic stem cell (ES cell) research to take place on surplus IVF embryos, but prohibits the creation of embryos specifically for stem cell derivation. The bill also establishes a regulatory body, the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada (AHRAC), which will license, monitor and enforce the new law and store data on ARTs, in a similar way to the UK's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority (HFEA).

But the bill died when former prime minister Jean Chretien retired and prorogued Parliament in November. Paul Martin, the new Prime Minister, previously voted in favour of the bill and has now sent it back to the Senate for consideration, where debates are expected to take 'weeks or months'. It is widely expected that Martin will call an election sometime after April. This would mean that the Government must pass bill C-13 before the election, otherwise the process would have to start from scratch again after the election. In January, a Health Canada spokesman said 'we are working to pass this legislation in a timely manner'.

Ottawa to ban clones
The Calgary Sun |  12 February 2004
Pettigrew reinstates reproductive technology bill
The Globe and Mail |  12 February 2004
6 June 2011 - by Professor Eric Blyth and Dr Marilyn Crawshaw 
The regulation of assisted human reproduction in Canada has had a long and tortuous history. Twenty one years after a Royal Commission appointed by the federal government recommended legislation (1), and following several failed attempts to get legislation through the Canadian parliament, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act 2004 came into force (2)...
3 October 2005 - by Dr Mavis Jones 
The current public consultation on the Human Fertilisation and Embryology (HFE) Act, according to the government's official statement, is intended 'to ensure that the law remains effective and fit for purpose in the early 21st century'. The HFE Act has managed to maintain political authority over its 15 year tenure...
9 May 2005 - by BioNews 
The Australian federal government, which was planning to cut back on funding for IVF in its budget next month, has backed down. It was considering placing a cap on the number of Medicare-funded IVF treatments to a maximum of three for women over 42 and three per year for women...
8 March 2004 - by BioNews 
A Canadian Senate committee has unanimously passed legislation on assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) and related matters. Approval by the Senate virtually guarantees that the Assisted Human Reproduction Act - which has been years in the making - will receive Royal Assent and become law. Last October, bill C-13, entitled 'an Act...
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