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CFAS support for surrogate, donor compensation is 'important'

The Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society’s (CFAS) call for a change in the law to permit “reasonable compensation for gamete donors and surrogates” sends a strong message to Ottawa that continuing to prohibit it is against social norms, says Toronto fertility lawyer Sara Cohen

“If our law isn’t in line with what people who have experience in the area think, then we need to revisit it,“ she tells

“I think this statement from the CFAS shows the people who have the most on-the-ground knowledge — doctors, mental health professionals, ethicists and lawyers — are coming together and saying, ‘look this policy was misguided and a huge majority of us support compensation at this point.

“This is important.”

Cohen, founder of Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP, says this is the first time to her knowledge that the organization has taken this position. 

Allowing reasonable compensation helps to prevent abuses, ensures fairness and transparency, and improves access to care for those seeking third-party reproduction, the CFAS says in a statement.

“If conducted under clear, evidence-based Canadian standards of care with the health and safety of the donors, surrogates, and intended parents in mind, a viable system of compensation for third-party reproduction can be developed in Canada.”

The society's statement also says people in this country “have waited far too long for the government to act while thousands of Canadians suffer the consequences of a law that limits their ability to create a family.”

Sections 6 and 7 of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) prohibit the purchase of eggs and sperm from donors or anyone acting on behalf of donors, the purchase or sale of embryos, and payment of a fee to a surrogate, the CFAS explains.

“In all cases, reimbursement of expenses is permitted with receipts. However, exactly what expenses are allowed is still under consideration by Health Canada. In the meantime, penalties for contravening the Act are severe, amounting to a maximum fine of $500,000 or imprisonment for up to 10 years,” it says.

Cohen says there has been a significant shift in attitudes since the law was passed in 2004. 

“I think it’s clear to everybody that this doesn’t help anyone at this point,” she says, adding she has long been an advocate for change.

Cohen, co-chair of the CFAS ethics and law special interest group, co-authored with Megan Savard a document in November 2016 about why ss. 6 and 7 of the AHRA need to be amended. Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society president Dr. Jeff Roberts signed onto the report before it was sent to Health Canada, Cohen says. 

Cohen applauds the CFAS for its recent statement.

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