The Future of Assisted Human Reproduction

It was one of the "Quiet Cuts" of the federal budget, the agency to enforce Canada's reproductive technology laws will be gone within months. In the meantime, some laws are being strictly enforced and others are so confusing, some looking for surrogates don't know where to turn. Today, a debate on the direction our reproductive technology laws are taking this country. Is it ethical to restrict use of technology or immoral to deny access?

Part Two of The Current

The Future of Assisted Human Reproduction - Panel

It was a cut few noticed when the federal budget came down last month. But an agency called Assisted Human Reproduction Canada was chopped. It enforced the federal laws governing fertility technologies. Among other things, the laws make it illegal to pay for human sperm or eggs or surrogacy. But subsequent court rulings softened the Act, and now with no enforcing body, many people aren't exactly sure what's legal.

Dave and Lindsay Leblanc of Bradford, Ontario were unable to have children after Lindsay had cancer treatment about two years ago. The couple learned if they wanted to have biologically related children, the only option was InVitro fertilization plus a surrogate to carry the pregnancy. The couple is now working with a surrogate and while their first attempt failed, they plan to try again this summer.

The couple is fortunate that two friends and a family member have offered themselves as surrogates. But there's still plenty of room for confusion. And while the law may be confusing too, it's still the law.

Last month, the RCMP raided an Ontario fertility clinic police believed was in violation of the Human Reproduction Act. Exactly what kind of regulations should Canada have and who should be protected?

To discuss those questions, we were joined by two guests. Sara Cohen is a lawyer specializing in fertility law. Her practice, Fertility Law Canada, is based in Toronto. Francoise Baylis is Professor and Canada Research Chair of Bioethics and Philosophy at Dalhousie University. She used to be on the board of Assisted Human Reproduction Canada, but she quit and is not speaking on behalf of the agency. Francoise Baylis was in Halifax.

This segment was produced by The Current's Kristin Nelson.

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