Accounting for Law
Fertility

Regulation a better option for commercial surrogacy

The act of commercial surrogacy should be regulated rather than criminalized, as instead of protecting women, current laws are ‘paternalistic and offensive,’ Toronto fertility lawyer Sara Cohen recently told a McGill University law and health symposium, as reported by the McGill Tribune.

As the Tribune reports, Cohen, founder of Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP, was part of a panel discussion featuring professors, lawyers and physicians entitled “Assisted Reproduction: Navigating the Criminalization of Commercial Surrogacy” at the McGill Journal of Law and Health eighth Annual Colloquium.

The panel examined the federal Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA), which was passed in 2004. The AHRA requires altruistic surrogacy and criminalizes the payment of surrogate mothers with penalties of $500,000 or a 10-year prison sentence.

“[This law was created to] protect marginalized women from engaging in surrogacy because they felt they had no choice,” said Cohen. “But most women acting as surrogates are altruistic, self-sufficient, [and] independent thinkers.” 

As the article notes, the AHRA also prohibits the purchase of sperm and ova.

“As a result, few individuals donate sperm or gametes, often creating banks with tissues of redundant genotypes (identical DNA). Some birth-mothers therefore receive identical gametes as those received by others, unknowingly giving birth to biological half-siblings,” says the article.

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