Time for Canada to 'make it right' with fertility legislation

By Mia Clarke, Associate Editor

Canada’s fertility legislation is hurting those it was intended to protect, Toronto fertility lawyer Sara Cohen tells CTV News.

Cohen, founder of Fertility Law Canada at D2Law LLP, says current laws don’t go far enough to protect children born through third-party reproduction and the women who act as surrogates and egg donors, says the news report.

She tells the Globe and Mail that a new private member’s bill “is the opportunity to make it right.”

The bill aims to eliminate criminal charges for those who pay for and receive donated sperm and eggs, as well as surrogacy services, says CTV News.

Liberal MP Anthony Housefather recently introduced the bill in the House of Commons, saying “criminalization is meant to eradicate societal evils. The desire to have a child or to help someone have a child is not evil,” reports CTV.

Current legislation prohibits compensation for those who donate sperm or eggs or carry babies for others, says the report, noting that penalties include up to 10 years in prison and $500,000 in fines.

Surrogates can only be reimbursed for pregnancy-related costs, such as medication and travel to medical appointments.

Cohen tells CTV she's hopeful that with this bill “Canada will begin to correct its paternalistic and harmful laws that were born out fears and what ifs.”

She says Canada has only one national sperm bank, which takes 20 to 40 donors a year. That means about 95 per cent of donor sperm is imported from countries where it’s paid for, she points out.

When using imported sperm, says Cohen, Canada has no control over how much a single donor’s sperm is used or the standard of care for a donor. There is also no control over any information that the resulting children have a right to access, she says.

“Given technology, we are now repeating the same mistakes with egg donors,” says Cohen.

“It’s a family-building issue, a women’s health issue, a reproductive health issue, and an LGBT issue. It’s time Canada got it right,” she says.

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