Wednesday, April 4, 2012

"Wanting to have a baby is not a crime"

In yesterday's Globe & Mail, award-winning health reporter & columnist Andre Picard published a column in which he called for the Assisted Human Reproduction Act of 1994 -- the law which governs ARTs in Canada -- to be scrapped. The federal government did recently scrap Assisted Human Reproductive Canada, the regulatory agency created by the act.

While the puns near the beginning of the article are truly cringeworthy, I wanted to stand up & cheer when I read this line, mid-article:
"Wanting to have a baby is not a crime."
And also at Picard's concluding paragraph:
"The government likes to paint itself as pro-family. It should be helping people build their families – all kinds of families – not putting up ridiculous legal hurdles. And it should be spending money on assisting women and men with fertility challenges, not criminalizing the desire for children."
Alas, I fear the current government (some members in particular, anyway), while talking a good line about getting government out of people's lives, would like nothing more than to follow the example of its right-wing compatriots south of the border and make anything to do with women's bodies, health care and reproductive freedom the exception to that general rule.

So we will see what happens next. But in the meantime, it's heartening to read Picard's words. (If not the comments that follow. Beware.)


  1. Oddly enough the agency was a block from my old place downtown. I always wondered what they heck they were doing.

  2. When I briefly considered surrogacy, I was surprised to learn about its semi-legal status in Canada. I once read an article about a couple who made the mistake to tell a judge that they had paid their surrogate and the judge refused to grant the mother adoption of her own child. What an horrible situation, you go through all this to end up in a legal vacuum.

  3. I have no idea about the situation in Canada, so can't comment on that. I do agree with the comment "wanting to have a baby is not a crime." (Yes, I made the mistake of reading the comments, many of which would have you think it is a crime!)

    Here in NZ, assisted reproduction is quite tightly regulated. I think I'm right in saying that surrogacies have to be individually approved. I think that's a bit too much - and I think there is too much control on egg donation too.

    But I am grateful for the fact that IVF is regulated here to a degree, in terms of the number of embryos that can be replaced, the quantity of drugs that can be prescribed. For me, it takes away the risk that I could be prescribed more and more drugs, at greater and greater expense and risk, simply because the clinic knows that the more cycles I try, the more profit they make. It meant that my doctor could say to me "I wouldn't recommend, and in fact wouldn't agree to treat you for another cycle." His eye wasn't on profit, it was outcomes, and the risks and benefits to me. (And I was a privately funded patient, so he could have continued to offer me cycles).

    The completely unregulated system in the US makes infertility patients very vulnerable to greedy and unethical doctors (ie octomom's doctors), and I think normalises practices that really don't have research-based evidence that they benefit the patient, and I for one am very thankful we don't have that.