Enforcing the Assisted Human Reproduction Act - A letter to the Hon. Jane Philpott, Minister of Health

05 January 2016
Hon. Jane Philpott
Minister of Health
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Philpott,

On behalf of The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, I wish to congratulate you on your election victory and your appointment as Minister of Health.  Be assured of our prayers for you as you participate in the leadership of our country in Parliament and in your Cabinet portfolio. Your government has the weighty tasks of upholding respect for the rule of law and protecting those most vulnerable.

We are very concerned to read recent media reports that indicate the Assisted Human Reproduction Act is not being enforced. For example, the National Post has reported this fall on donors of human ova receiving payment above their expenses. One of the principles recognized at the beginning of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act is that trade in reproductive capabilities raises health and ethical concerns that justify their prohibition.

The prohibitions in this legislation have undergone extensive consultation, including the Royal Commission, Health Canada consultations and parliamentary committee hearings. Former Health Minister Allan Rock brought draft legislation to the Standing Committee on Health in 2001 in order to facilitate non-partisan review of the issue. That committee strongly expressed concern with commercial trade in gametes as contrary to human dignity, with far-reaching social and emotional effects for any resulting families. The Supreme Court of Canada upheld these prohibitions in its 2010 reference on the legislation.

As Justices McLachlin, Binnie, Fish and Charron stated in the decision, “Parliament has a strong interest in ensuring that basic moral standards govern the creation and destruction of life, as well as their impact on persons like donors and mothers. The Act seeks to avert serious damage to the fabric of our society by prohibiting practices that tend to devalue human life and degrade participants. Overlapping with the morality concerns are concerns for public health and security which may be properly targeted by criminal law. These are valid criminal law purposes.”

We urge you to look into violations of the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and to take steps to discourage commercial trade in reproductive material and capabilities.

Bruce J. Clemenger, President,
The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada