CEO Leia Swanberg led a group of nearly 30 to Parliament Hill and will be heading back in February, bringing awareness to the call for decriminalization with Surrogacy and Egg Donation.
Press Release – updated: Dec 21, 2017 16:12 EST
OTTAWA, Canada, December 21, 2017 – Surrogacy and gamete donation are methods of assisted reproduction that help people conceive, start or expand a family. While current legislation in Canada permits altruistic surrogacy and gamete donation (meaning surrogate mothers and gamete donors can only be reimbursed for expenses related to the pregnancy or donation), the prohibition against payment and penalties are draconian.
Canadians from every demographic and economic group could require a surrogate and/or gamete donor to build their family. Every Canadian should have the right and ability to have a family without fear of legal prosecution. Currently, intended parent(s) can face up to ten years in prison and fines up to $500,000 if they are found guilty of paying surrogates or gamete donors. The draconian nature of this punishment means intended parents live in fear while attempting to follow their inherent human nature of having a family.
Representatives from some of Canada’s leading fertility specialists whose client care is primarily based in assisted human reproduction were in Ottawa for their first Hill Day several weeks ago. The representatives were comprised of Doctors, Lawyers, Consultants, Social Workers, Surrogates, Intended Parents and Gamete Donors. The focus of the meeting was to discuss the proposed changes to certain sections of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act (as announced by Health Canada in July 2017), and how these changes will affect the current state of assisted human reproductive services and access to these services across Canada. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the government’s overall priorities and how we can best work together to achieve them.
I cried every day. I lived immersed in fear. Would they take my baby at the hospital? It wasn't my choice to be infertile, this was my only option. Was I a criminal? I didn't feel like a criminal. The joy that came into my life the day my daughter was born was unimaginable. Our surrogate never wanted to be paid for this—she wanted to give us this gift. I am a mom, I deserve to be a mom and that's it.
Jennifer, Intended Mother
Statistically speaking 1 in 6 individuals/couples across Canada access fertility services. These individuals include cancer patients, same sex individuals/couples and other members of the LGBTQ community and heterosexual individuals/couples. It is this group of representative’s mandate to create safe and healthy avenues in which those who dream of having a family can achieve those dreams successfully, confidently and without fear of prosecution under the current murky legislation.
Fertility Advisors led the group to Ottawa and spoke with over 30 Members of Parliament, who seemed positive about the emerging issues and support required. After months of planning, they were so excited about the amazing response and interest in this national health cause. So much so that they made the decision to continue lobbying efforts and head back to Ottawa again in February. The group had such a positive social response as well, with hundreds of Canadian Surrogates sharing images from their journeys and positive messages of hope.
As the first and only subject of the RCMP criminal investigation under the AHRA, Leia Swanberg felt compelled to share her personal and professional experience with others as she endured a police raid, investigation and prosecution. She hopes they will be compelled to introduce legislation, to decriminalize the current offenses in the AHRA so that countless other people no longer need live in fear while pursuing their dreams of family.
One Intended Parent wrote in their submission: “Our struggle with infertility was already isolating and heartbreaking. Now we could face imprisonment and fines that would leave us financially devastated. It feels like we are being punished two-fold, simply for wanting something as natural as having a child and a family to call our own.”
Fertility Advisors is committed to continuing lobbying efforts to move forward this legislative change.
Source: Fertility Advisors
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