Canada may have become a hotspot for international surrogacy, with data suggesting that almost half of intended parents in some provinces live abroad.
Writing in The Globe and Mail, journalist Alison Motluck recounts how loopholes in Canada’s surrogacy law, and increasing restrictions on surrogacy in other countries, have contributed to an apparent spike in foreign intending parents having children via Canadian surrogates.
Precise figures are not publicly available and some provinces do not keep records of parents’ residency. Yet legal scholar Pamela White from the University of Kent recently obtained data from the government of British Columbia of births via surrogacy in the province in 2016 to 2017. According to White, almost half of the babies born to Canadian surrogates in the province were for intended parents who lived outside the country (45 of the 102 babies, or 44 per cent).
In a paper presented at the annual meeting of the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society last month, University of Manitoba legal scholar Karen Bubsy noted that a loophole in Canadian legislation allows for surrogates to be paid provided that the money exchanges hands outside of the country. And unlike Russia and the Ukraine, Canada does not restrict surrogacy on the basis of marital status or sexual orientation.
Canada restricts payments for local sperm and eggs, yet prospective parents can purchase gametes for surrogacy in US states bordering Canada.
Even in light of the loopholes in legislation, there have been calls for the country’s official ban on commercial surrogacy to be abandoned. A bill is currently before the House of Commons that would amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act to allow payment for surrogacy services.
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