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CGS Report on the new Canadian Assisted Human Reproduction Act

Genetic Crossroads
April 9th, 2004

Canada's new Assisted Human Reproduction Act (AHRA) is one of the most significant pieces of legislation on human genetic and reproductive technologies enacted to date. The law establishes principles for regulating these technologies, and establishes a new federal agency to license and oversee all private and public clinics and laboratories using human gametes and embryos.

The AHRA sanctions the use of donated human embryos for research, under strict conditions, and bans unacceptable practices, including

  • the creation of human embryos solely for research
  • germline engineering (i.e., inheritable genetic modification)
  • the creation of human/non-human hybrids and chimeras
  • all use of somatic cell nuclear transfer (cloning), whether for research or reproduction
  • sex selection except to prevent, diagnose or treat a sex-linked disorder or disease
  • commercial surrogate motherhood contracts and the sale of sperm, eggs and embryos

The AHRA was strongly supported by Canadian women's health advocates, and opposed by Canadian anti-choice groups. It is notable that despite this striking contrast with the political alignment of interests in the United States concerning cloning and stem cell policies, passage of the Canadian law received little press coverage in the U.S.

CGS has prepared a report on the AHRA that explains its provisions; compares it with similar laws in Germany, Australia and the United Kingdom; discusses the politics behind it; and suggests lessons that the United States and other countries might draw from this success in Canada. See:
http://www.genetics-and-society.org/policies/other/canada.html

For the full text of the legislation see:
http://www.parl.gc.ca/PDF/37/3/parlbus/chambus/house/bills/government/C-6_3.pdf

For a full set of background documents from Health Canada see:
http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/english/protection/reproduction/


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