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Fertility Law Not Working, Critics Say

The Gazette,  Dec 13, 2010
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Canada's fertility laws are driving infertile couples who are desperate for babies into the black market or abroad and need to be reformed, critics say.

The 6-year-old law prohibiting payment for sperm, eggs or surrogacy services has Canadians seeking paid surrogates in India. They're travelling to the United States, Mexico, Argentina, Spain, Romania and the Czech Republic for in vitro fertilization using donor eggs. Some are buying fresh sperm over the Internet.

Only days ago, Health Canada issued an advisory warning about the dangers to mothers and their future children of using fresh donor semen for assisted conception. Message boards, Facebook groups, ads and websites are offering free sperm for willing recipients.

The law criminalizing payment for donor gametes or surrogates is putting desperate couples "in the hands of people that may not be competent or qualified," says Liberal MP Carolyn Bennett, a former public health minister. "I just think it's horrible that people can't have that appropriate kind of care here in Canada."

IVF clinics in India are transferring four to five embryos - created via IVF using the commissioning couple's eggs and sperm, or eggs from a donor -into surrogates at each try at pregnancy, increasing the chances that at least one embryo will take but also boosting the risk of multiple births.

"If somebody ends up with triplets or quads, that ends up in our health-care system, in terms of premature babies," Bennett says.

"This is something that we could control and regulate if it was done here," she added.

"You can yank somebody's licence if they're doing bad things.

"This has been a disaster, and these couples, they're suffering."

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