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Canadian fertility law 'a farce', says clinician

17 May 2010
Appeared in BioNews 558

Canada's fertility licensing and regulatory body, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC), has come under fire from lawyers and doctors who are finding the country's fertility laws vague and uncertain, the National Post reports.

The sale of gametes is prohibited in Canada under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act 2004, but reimbursement for expenses incurred during donation is permitted. Doctors believe the lack of AHRC guidance and its failure to ensure adequate compliance has resulted in clinics adopting different practices, leaving patients confused and at risk.

'The situation is a bit of a farce', said Dr Ellen Greenblatt, the head of the Mount Sinai Hospital, in the National Post.

The newspaper reports that desperate couples are seeking decisive guidance on the sale of sperm and eggs since some clinics apparently permit the use of gametes bought across the border in the United States while others directly facilitate the purchasing of gametes. 'Each clinic is drawing their own lines at a slightly different place', said fertility expect Dr Tin Hannam, who claims the AHRC is reluctant to offer definitive guidance on the law.

Defending the AHRC, spokeswoman Sharron-Lee Kurtenbach said it has established an effective enforcement and compliance program and that it runs a free-phone number for clinics seeking information about the law.

The AHRC faced further controversy in April when two board members resigned. They could not, however, disclose their reasons for doing so, citing confidentiality agreements signed when they took up their posts.

Some suggest that the situation may not be entirely the AHRC's fault. 'We don't have government leadership, and that places AHRC in a difficult situation', said Dr Roger Pierson, spokesman for the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society. The Post reports that a parliamentary review of Canada's assisted reproduction legislation is long overdue but also that the Government may be reluctant to become involved in what is potentially a political minefield.

SOURCES & REFERENCES
Fertility law leaves us in limbo, doctors say
National Post |  30 April 2010
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