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IN DEPTH: Reproductive Technologies

MPs consider rules for reproductive technologies

Canadian Broadcasting Coorporation (CBC) October 28, 2003

TORONTO - The House of Commons debated a bill Friday that could make it Read More ..mplicated for infertile couples to have a baby.

Bill C-13 deals with many topics, including embryonic stem cells research and cloning.

The reproductive rules could have a major impact on some Canadian families. Under the bill, couples wouldn't be able to pay for donated eggs.

Like more than 1,500 Canadian babies born every year, Claire and Angelique Lawrence of Toronto were conceived through invitro fertilization (IVF).

Their births were made possible when Lori Hickling donated her healthy eggs to an infertile couple. In exchange, they paid for her IVF treatments.

The procedure costs $7,000 a shot and about four or five attempts are needed, said Burke Lawrence, the girls' father.

Bill C-13 prohibits:
- any kind of buying or selling of eggs, sperm and embryos
- sex selection unless it's to prevent a sex-linked disease
- paying surrogate mothers for more than lost income or expenses without receipts.

Dr. Art Leader, an infertility specialist in Ottawa, supports the legislation in general. But he doesn't think people will volunteer to donate sperms and eggs and he fears the supply may dry up.

"Within two years, 6,000 to 7,000 couples would be denied donor sperm for fertility treatment, and then there'd be probably another 1,000 couples a year who couldn't benefit from egg donation," Leader said.

Dr. Patricia Baird

Dr. Patricia Baird headed the Royal Commission on Reproductive Technology back in the early 1990s. She says when people talk about paying for donated sperm and eggs, they need to think about the children who are created in the process.

"To know that your biological father or progenitor actually did this for money is a different way of coming in to the world than knowing that someone was sympathetic with people who couldn't have a family," said Baird of the University of British Columbia.

Hickling and Laurence say they're relieved they were able to complete their family before the legislation was introduced. They've kept two embryos frozen in case they want to have more children.