The Commercialization of Reproduction and Donor Anonymity in Canada

by The Center for Bioethics and Culture

This week, we are pleased to feature an in-depth report on assisted reproduction in Canada. The report was prepared by our 2011 Blackstone Legal Intern, Brittney Sharp. The report is especially timely as Jennifer Lahl will be in Toronto later this month speaking at a conference on reproductive issues and filming two interviews for our new film project, Anonymous Fathers Day.

Table of Contents

  • Introduction
  • Prohibition on the Commercialization of Human Reproduction
  • The Assisted Human Reproduction Act
  • Quebec Challenges the Assisted Human Reproduction Act
  • Donor Anonymity and the Assisted Human Reproduction Act
  • Pratten v. British Columbia (Attorney General)
  • British Columbia Appeals to the Supreme Court

Introduction

Advancements in reproductive technologies over the past two decades have prompted moral and ethical debates worldwide. Canada has approached this new ethical landscape and the development of new reproductive technologies by constructing a legislative framework to “protect the health and safety, rights and dignity of Canadians.” Canada boasts having created “one of the most comprehensive pieces of legislation in the world” to address the many issues that arise when individuals employ the use of reproductive technologies and engage in biological research to explore human reproduction. Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) covers a wide range of topics involving all stages of assisted human reproduction, and Canada’s case law covers a number of topics as well. However, this document will focus specifically on Canada’s prohibition on the purchase of human reproductive materials and services as well as a recent development in Canada’s donor anonymity laws. First, this report will explore how the AHRA has attempted to avoid the “commercialization of reproduction” in Canada and how the relevant portions of the law pertaining to the sale of gametes and surrogacy services have been accepted by the provinces while other portions have been challenged. Second, this report will explore the status of federal donor anonymity laws in Canada and how a recent case from the Supreme Court of British Columbia has changed the status quo and given hope to donor offspring.

Download the Full Report (PDF)

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