Fake It Till You Make it: Policymaking and Assisted Human Reproduction in Canada

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Egg Donation, Assisted Human Reproduction, Assisted Human Reproduction Act, Policy, Canada, Health Canada Guidelines


The Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHR Act) came into effect in 2004. The AHR Act stipulates in s.12 that no reimbursement of expenditures incurred in the course of donating gametes, maintaining or transporting in vitro embryos, or providing surrogacy services is permitted, except in accordance with the regulations and with receipts. Ten years later, Health Canada still has not drafted the regulations governing reimbursement. Section 12 is therefore still not in force. Health Canada and others have asserted that there is a Health Canada policy on reimbursement and that reimbursement with receipts is legally permissible. We dispute the existence of such a policy and its legitimacy (if it exists). We also challenge the decision by Health Canada not to produce regulations and thereby make it possible for Parliament to bring s.12 into force. This intentional lack of action is worrisome on at least two fronts. First, it sidesteps the processes required for regulations and thereby ducks the Parliamentary oversight very deliberately built into the AHR Act. Second, it leaves Canadians who provide and who access assisted human reproduction uncertain about what is and is not permitted, and therefore fearful of, or at risk of, prosecution. We conclude that Health Canada should take the steps necessary to put regulations in front of Parliament so that Parliament will then be able to pass regulations and bring s.12 into force. Canadians should demand no less.