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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.

Fertility law leaves us in limbo, doctors say
National Post |  30 April 2010
25 October 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A Canadian woman conceived through donor insemination has been allowed to bring legal action against the province of British Columbia to obtain information about her biological heritage, which may include the identity of the sperm donor involved....
21 June 2010 - by Dr Gabrielle Samuel 
A Canadian MP has suggested that Canada's fertility-industry watchdog, Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC) should be shut down because it is doing so little with its annual $10 million budget....
7 June 2010 - by Antony Starza-Allen 
A third board member of Canada's fertility industry regulator, the Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC), has resigned. Irene Ryll, the agency's consumer representative, resigned from her duties leaving critics to call for a public investigation into its operations, or lack of...
7 June 2010 - by Professor Jocelyn Downie 
In the past three months, three members of the Board of Directors of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada (AHRC) have resigned. This set of resignations is cause for serious concern and requires urgent attention from the federal Parliamentary Standing Committee on Health and Parliament itself....
5 June 2010 - by Dr Nadeem Shaikh 
Political consensus in Denmark has resulted in an amendment to legislation governing IVF funding. According to the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE), free public health services will no longer extend towards assisted reproduction treatments (ART)....
26 April 2010 - by Dr Marianne Kennedy 
Two board members of the Canadian federal agency 'Assisted Human Reproduction Canada' have unexpectedly quit. This follows the resignations of four senior staff members last year...
22 March 2010 - by MacKenna Roberts 
The Canadian ban against women selling their eggs as a source of eggs for fertility treatments is reported to be systemically flawed in practice, according to an expose article published in the April 2010 edition of the Canadian magazine The Walrus. Journalist Alison Motluk interviewed egg 'donors' and recipients, fertility experts and regulators, revealing that the Canadian ban is as farcical as its loose interpretation of the word 'donor'. The article attributed the discrepan...
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...
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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