Finally after 8 years of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act coming into play the police are laying down the law and investigating some questionable practices in the fertility trade in Canada. The AHRA act clearly states that the exchange of money for Sperm, Eggs, Embryos or the Services for Surrogate Mothers is a crime here in Canada. Then why have people been receiving money under the guise of such actions. Last month the RCMP raided an Ontario Agency called the Canadian Fertility Consultants (CFC) run by CEO Leia Picard. They claim to be a full service agency, but what does that mean and is it legal here in Canada?
As it turns out there are Fertility clinics giving money to women for their eggs and writing it up as reimbursement for expenses for time off work or school. Even though some women who are receiving this cash say they did not need time off nor any money for expenses but received it anyways:
In Tom Blackwell’s article Canada’s murky legal world of surrogate-consultants and human egg buyers published on March 9/12 in the National Post. Tom writes: ‘As it turns out, Elizabeth said she had no expenses to speak of and took off no time from school, yet the money came like clockwork — the first $1,000 after she underwent various tests, the last $4,000 when the eggs were “retrieved.” “I was a broke student and the $5,000 price tag was very desirable,” said the Vancouver Island resident, who asked that her last name be withheld. “[But] I felt like one part on the production line to eventually create this child, which this family is paying thousands of dollars to essentially produce by artificial means.’
AND these same fertility clinics are giving Brokers cash and gift cards for recruiting women for surrogacy, and these brokers are also being paid thousands of dollars by prospective parents to help them find surrogates. The problem here is that the AHRA also states that it is illegal to “accept consideration for arranging for the services of a surrogate mother, or to offer or advertise to make arrangements. So why then after 8 years of this law being in place have there been no investigation or arrests up until now?
In another article by Tom Blackwell Pregnant surrogates ‘left in the lurch’ after RCMP raid fertility consultants office published March 1/12 in the National Post Tom writes: ‘Despite the ban, it is not difficult to find Canadians openly advertising donor sperm, eggs and embryos and surrogate services on the Internet. Diane Allen of the Infertility Network support group has said she has repeatedly asked the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency to investigate reports of such activity but little is ever done.’ ‘If the agency suspects a crime might have occurred, it hands over the file to the RCMP.’
I know from personal experience and contact with others in the world of Donor Gametes that these are issues that have all been brought to politicians and police alike. There has been a struggling effort to have laws changed and enforced, but it seems that the world of baby making is bug bucks and money talks. I think that the unfortunate thing here is the fact that not many people who use donor sperm, eggs, embryos or surrogates really know or care what the Assisted Human Reproduction Act is or if what they are doing is potentially illegal, lets face it, no one has been arrested for it yet let alone charged. I know that when I wanted a baby, all I cared about was getting my sperm and getting it ASAP. I thought okay I can’t purchase it from Canada, no problem, I’ll get it from the US. Easy Peasy. What I should have been thinking was, wait a second, WHY can’t I buy it from Canada, why are they putting regulations in place that don’t allow the purchase of these bodily “ingredients” (as Tom Blackwell of the National Post so flippently refers to it)? So here I am today reading articles and legal policies, tuning into to the industry trying to muddle through it and figure out what my part is in all of it , and where I should take a stand and belong. I think that I am somewhere between the points of we need laws to govern the fertility industry so no one gets used or hurt, but we can’t take peoples freedoms or decisions away from them.
As one doctor put it: ‘Although many in the fertility industry believe that the payment ban is unnecessary and has needlessly complicated the process, it is important that doctors and others abide by the law, said Dr. Laskin.’
And As one Surrogate put it: “The reason [the industry] is so successful is because they’re providing children for people who otherwise would not be able to,” said Elizabeth. “And the means of achieving children are probably young women like me, who are low income and educated, but maybe not educated enough to really understand the implications of donating eggs.”
A “Murky Legal World” it certainly is!