Compensation for Canadian Sperm And Egg Donors Will Help LGBTQ Couples Build Families
It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services in Canada.
The Canadian government is considering amendments to the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) that will benefit the LGBTQ community.
On May 29, Member of Parliament Anthony Housefather introduced a private members bill to the House of Commons. He is seeking decriminalization of surrogacy services and consideration of reasonable compensation for egg and sperm donation in Canada.
It’s currently illegal to pay, offer to pay or advertise payment for sperm, eggs, or surrogacy services. Under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 2004, any compensation beyond reasonable expenditures is a criminal offence punishable by 10 years in prison and a $500,000 fine. What constitutes a legitimate expense has yet to be clearly defined by the government, leading to criticism of the Act by many doctors and legal experts.
Housefather’s proposed change will affect many Canadians who don’t have their own eggs or sperm to start a family: single women, sterile men, older women who no longer produce viable eggs and people who carry genetic diseases they do not want to pass on.
It will also be of significant importance to LGBTQ couples.
As a fertility doctor, I know that having children is important to LGBTQ couples. However, most require the help of a fertility clinic to obtain donor sperm or eggs.
The intention of sections 6 and 7 of the Act were to prevent commercialization of donors and surrogates in Canada. In reality, the criminalization of potential donors has led to a complete lack of egg and sperm donors willing to provide their reproductive material for free. Donor sperm and donor egg banks are virtually non-existent in Canada. Surrogacy services are only available through recruiting agencies that operate in a “grey area” of the Act.