Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Egg Donors and Surrogates Need High-Quality Care

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Egg Donors and Surrogates Need High-Quality Care

Article excerpt

Egg donors and surrogates need high-quality care

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This article was originally published on The Conversation, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts. Disclosure information is available on the original site.

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Authors: Alana Cattapan, Assistant Professor, Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy, University of Saskatchewan and Françoise Baylis, Professor and Canada Research Chair in Bioethics and Philosophy, Dalhousie University

Health Canada recently sought public input into new regulations for the use of assisted human reproduction. The consultation process covered everything from in-vitro fertilization (IVF) to egg and sperm donation and surrogacy.

The consultation document prioritizes the health and safety of men and women engaged in family-making projects using assisted human reproduction. It also prioritizes the health and safety of children born of reproductive technologies. Meanwhile, the interests of those who contribute substantially to family-making -- egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates -- are repeatedly overlooked.

As researchers and advocates for women's health, we are concerned about the ongoing failure on the part of Health Canada and others to see egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates as both critical participants and patients in the use of reproductive technologies. We urge policy makers to give due consideration to their health, well-being and interests in the making of public policy on assisted human reproduction.

A narrow focus

The Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Act -- the legislation governing the use of human reproductive technologies in Canada -- was passed in 2004. As originally drafted, the act includes a number of provisions that require regulations in order for them to come into force. Most of these have never been introduced, including rules about how those donating eggs, sperm and embryos and those who act as surrogates should be paid.

Now, some 13 years later, Health Canada is finally taking the necessary steps to start drafting the missing regulations. An early step in this process has involved limited public consultation on a discussion document titled Toward a Strengthened Assisted Human Reproduction Act: A Consultation with Canadians on Key Policy Proposals. This document provides information about the direction of regulations-to-come in support of the AHR Act and asks the public for input.

An important problem with the discussion document (and the direction of the regulations it outlines) is the narrow focus on those who use assisted reproduction to build a family and those who are born of these technologies.

What about those who assist others with their family-making project? Assisted human reproduction often involves others -- including egg donors, sperm donors and surrogates. In the discussion document, their interests are too often overlooked.

Risks of egg donation

In the section on "product safety," for example, the discussion document provides considerable detail about the ways in which eggs and sperm (gametes) should be acquired so as to protect the health and safety of those using assisted reproduction, and of the children born. …

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