Legislation on Assisted Reproduction Up for Vote this Fall
The Canadian Parliament has adjourned for the
summer before taking a final vote on a bill that, if passed,
would give Canada one of the world's most comprehensive frameworks
for the regulation of human assisted reproduction. The legislative
package, which has been under consideration since a government
commission issued a set of recommendations more than ten years
ago, is known as the Assisted Human Reproduction Act or C-13.
Bill C-13 would prohibit reproductive and embryo
cloning, non-medical sex selection, inheritable genetic modification,
human-animal chimeras, commercial surrogacy, and payment for
egg and sperm donors. It would also establish a regulatory agency
to monitor the ways in which scientists and clinicians use human
reproductive materials. It would allow research on already existing
human embryos, as well as regulated non-commercial surrogacy
and egg and sperm donation.
The office of Prime Minister Jean Chretien has said it will
give C-13 high priority as soon as the Parliament's fall session
A growing network of Canadian feminists and others
is working to support C-13. Abby Lippman, Professor of Epidemiology
at McGill University and Co-Chair of the Canadian Women's Health
Network, characterizes the bill as "legislation that would
provide an ethical and regulatory framework for reproductive
technologies to protect [Canadian women's] health and safety—as
well as that of the children they bear." She notes that
C-13 is not perfect, but says that no legislation in this area
can be. And C-13, she says, "would at least begin to provide
controls in an area still completely unregulated, an area in
which commercial forces and clinical cowboys increasingly rule."
Anti-choice groups, who oppose C-13 because it
"allows destructive research on live human embryos,"
are also mobilizing in anticipation of a vote this fall. In
addition, some researchers and clinicians are protesting the
restraints on their work and monitoring of their practices that
For information and action suggestions in support
of C-13, see Disabled Women's Network Ontario, http://dawn.thot.net/bill_c-13.html
Bill C-13, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Zealand NGOs Oppose Inheritable Genetic Modification
Environmentalists and others are opposing a proposed
change to a bill on assisted reproduction that, if enacted,
would make New Zealand the first country in the world to sanction
inheritable genetic modification (IGM).
The provision, part of the draft Human Assisted
Reproduction Technology (HART) bill, went almost unnoticed in
New Zealand until recently, and has attracted no attention at
all outside the country.
The HART bill would prohibit a number of widely
opposed procedures, including reproductive cloning, the creation
of hybrid embryos for reproductive purposes, the sale of embryos
and gametes, and commercial surrogacy. But it would put decisions
about IGM under the auspices of a Ministerial Advisory Committee.
IGM has been called the "hydrogen bomb"
of the new human genetic technologies, and has previously been
legally prohibited in New Zealand. The proposed language thus
represents a serious weakening of commitment to ensure that
IGM is not developed or used.
The effort now taking shape in New Zealand, led
by GE-Free New Zealand, is working to add IGM to the list of
prohibited technologies in the HART bill. GE Free-New Zealand's
Tremane Barr suggests that NZ citizens write to their local
newspapers and visit their local Members of Parliaments about
the topic. Those outside the country can monitor the home page
of the GE-Free NZ website for ongoing updates and suggestions
about how to support their efforts.
GE Free-New Zealand
"Analysis of the New Zealand Governments
Proposals to Amend the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology
Bill" by Tremane Barr
Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill and
Supplementary Order Paper 80 http://www.clerk.parliament.govt.nz/Programme/Committees/Submissions/HEhARTB.htm
much debate, Louisiana legislators were unable to pass
a cloning bill before the end of the legislative session. The
state's previous ban on reproductive cloning, which was enacted
in 1999, expired on July 1. As a result, Louisiana currently
has no law prohibiting human cloning. The Legislature is expected
to revisit this issue when the session resumes.