Donor Anonymity in Canada: Assessing the Obstacles to Openness and Considering a Way Forward

Vanessa Gruben, Angela Cameron

Abstract


This article discusses donor anonymity in Canada and the need for law reform in this area. Currently, assisted reproduction is regulated by both the provincial and federal governments, meaning this area is regulated in a piecemeal fashion. Disclosure of donor identifying and non-identifying factors is restricted to limited information, utilized only to keep statistical records. Due to the law limiting identifying information, donor-conceived persons struggle in their attempt to discover their genetic origins. Further, provincial family law does not recognize third party reproduction, which leaves modern family units unprotected. A definition of openness in gamete donation is given in Part II. Part III addresses the law-making and assisted reproduction difficulties arising from the division of powers. Part IV analyzes the potential impact of federal prohibitions on the purchase of sperm and eggs and whether disclosing a donor’s identity will negatively impact gamete supply in Canada. The final two sections discuss the failure of provinces to enact family laws which protect the parental status of intended parents and how past cases under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms have been challenging for donor-conceived persons. The authors propose that reform should be dealt with by the legislature in four areas: provincial family law reform where necessary; robust and meaningful public consultation; interprovincial cooperation if possible; and, consideration of law reform in other jurisdictions

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