Reconsider the Prohibitions of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act | Shidvash Bayat and Zeina Husseini
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the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is Canada’s guiding framework regulating the buying and selling of human eggs. Article 7 of the AHRA states that no one can buy, offer to buy or advertise the purchase of an egg from a donor or from a person acting on behalf of a donor. The bans state that eggs “may not be bought, sold, or traded for goods, goods or services” (see Government of Canada, “Prohibitions on the Purchase of Reproductive Material and the Purchase or Sale of sale of in vitro embryos â).
Despite these bans, the AHRA has failed to prevent the commercialization of egg donation and has instead compromised the safety of Canadian women. The AHRA bans not only created taboos around egg donation and buying, but they also contributed to the major lack of support in the health system for egg freezing and other egg treatments. infertility.
The AHRA’s stance against commercial egg donation reflects the popular public policy argument that the commercialization of âwomen’s reproductive capacity is inherently unethicalâ (see Alana Cattapan, âRisky Business: Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and the Politics of Exploitation âat 11). Much of the basis for this belief centers on a study by researchers Margrit Eichler and Phebe Poole, where they described approximately 118 surrogacy cases involving Canadians and analyzed 32 surrogacy clinics operated by a renowned US lawyer. surrogacy. The study found that people who ordered surrogates were more educated and wealthier than their surrogates. (See Eichler and Poole, âThe Incidence of Preconception Contracts for the Production of Children Among Canadians: A Report Prepared for the Law Reform Commission of Canada.â)
It should be noted that this study is often the only Canadian research used by Canadian parliamentarians regarding exploitation in surrogacy and egg donation arrangements. As a result, when it comes to egg donors selling their eggs, Canadian policymakers perceive that donors are forced to sell their eggs out of financial necessity to wealthy buyers.
This has of course led to the prevailing view that surrogate mothers and egg donors are exploited in commercial settings. This is a problematic generalization as there is no direct link through data or witnesses and no Canadian academic study on commercial egg donation to prove that this practice has led to widespread exploitation.
On the contrary, Canadian public policy arguments promote a patriarchal and simplistic perspective that women can only make independent and well-informed decisions about their bodies without payment. The AHRA bans ignore how non-commercial reasons for egg donation can lead to the exploitation of women.
Besides money or material compensation, intrafamily reproduction can sometimes force women to donate their eggs due to guilt, duty and socio-cultural gender vulnerabilities. Professor Rakhi Ruparelia gives the example of women who often have to deal with family hierarchies placing their daughters and daughters-in-law at the bottom of the ladder (see Rakhi Ruparelia, “Giving Away the ‘Gift of Life’: Surrogacy and the Canadian Assisted Human Reproduction Act, ” Canadian Journal of Family Law, Flight. 23 n Â° 1 (2007): 11-54). These women would generally be the most exposed to coercion and pressure to undergo egg donation against their will. To establish themselves within the family, these younger women often have to give way to higher-ranking women in the family who can suggest that they have children for other family members through marriage agreements. fertility.
In this case, it becomes clear that egg donation, even without being commercialized, can be coerced rather than voluntary and can lead to the exploitation of women.
Additionally, by banning commercial egg donation and imposing criminal penalties, the AHRA has instead pushed Canadian donors and their clients into the United States, thereby undermining the objective of the law. Crossing the border often means engaging in clandestine arrangements that can lead to potential dangers. For example, some women have been exploited by brokers who threatened to withhold payment if the donor broke the deal (see Claire Burns, “We are Egg Donors”).
We are currently at a stage where the demand for egg donation and sale is increasing. In fact, the New York-based Center for Human Reproduction (CHR) explains that more Canadian women have crossed the border and made it to their center over the years because they offer immediate donor matching without a list. waiting and access to more information. and support during the egg donation process.
Additionally, in a recent viral report, a couple in their 30s plastered ads on the University of Toronto campus looking for a college student as an egg donor. The ad called for commercial egg donation, but was able to avoid the AHRA bans by offering reimbursement of donation costs rather than direct compensation.
Canadians turning to these options only demonstrate how individuals have been able to circumvent AHRA bans and strike business deals between egg donors and buyers.
Globally, the marketing of eggs has gone beyond the treatment of infertility. In the United States, large companies are increasingly pushing their employees to freeze their eggs. Facebook is offering up to $ 20,000 in benefits to its employees for freezing their eggs, while Apple announced in 2014 that it would cover its employees as well. The aim of these initiatives is to get women to focus on work and put off having a family until later.
While such cases have not yet surfaced in Canadian companies, the situation in the United States marks the increasing commercialization of female eggs that could easily spread to Canada. With these practices only growing in popularity around the world, the AHRA bans in no way prevent Canadian companies from following the lead of American companies and offering monetary incentives to their employees to freeze. their eggs.
The AHRA bans on direct compensation for egg donors have only hampered support for people wishing to engage in assisted reproduction in Canada. In fact, as a CBC News article reports, a fertility clinic in Halifax explains how people seeking egg donation can expect to pay a minimum of $ 29,000 to receive eggs from the United States. United (see “Atlantic Canadians no longer need to leave the region to find an anonymous egg donor”). Clinics can once again circumvent the AHRA bans on compensating egg donors by paying the US egg banks that own the eggs rather than the donors directly. The law then only adds a layer of semantics which increases costs and creates unnecessary barriers.
It is imperative that we move beyond the archaic prohibitions of the AHRA so that the government can implement supports for egg donation, purchase and freezing, as well as establish financial support programs for ensure that women of lower socioeconomic status have the means to access the purchase of ov having to turn to unregulated sources.
Denmark is an example of a country with such support where the government helps individuals cover the costs of egg freezing and in vitro fertilization (IVF) treatments. Government support for fertility clinics in Denmark has raised the quality of infertility treatment care to the point that people from all over the world are coming to the country for infertility treatment.
This is in stark contrast to Canada where the only province to offer any support is Ontario, which is still limited to financial assistance to women who have a medical reason to seek fertility preservation.
A major step towards putting in place the right supports and the necessary funding is to remove unnecessary bans against the commercial egg trade and move beyond the idea that donors are vulnerable and exploited. By removing the prohibitions of the AHRA and replacing them with appropriate materials, those involved in different aspects of infertility treatment can benefit from adequate protection.
Shidvash Bayat is a BCL / JD candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law. He acquired extensive legal knowledge by working in three legal clinic internships, completing a legal internship for the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation and recently publishing an article in the Canadian Class Action Review entitled Combating systemic violence in long-term care homes in Quebec: the class action solution. Zeina Husseini is a BCL / JD candidate at McGill’s Faculty of Law. She gained experience during three legal clinical internships in Montreal and completed legal internships at the United Nations and at the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Foundation. She works as a legal analyst at Accenture.
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