Assistant Professor Calls for Surrogates to be Fairly Compensated

Jan 11, 2019

Group of Surrogate Women BBC News Service, 2018 Pregnancy is a journey that many families find personal and private, however a number of Canadian women are opening themselves to the possibility of helping others grow their own families. These women are known as “altruistic surrogates” who volunteer to help families who cannot conceive, such as same-sex couples, or have difficulties with their own pregnancies. However, many in Canada are seeking changes to a law that will allow these women to become compensated for assisting these families, a move that to some is long overdue.

Assistant Professor Dr. Claire Jones, who is a clinician at Mount Sinai Fertility, believes that these surrogates deserve more for their services. "Increasingly, Canadians are seeking the help of fertility specialists to conceive a pregnancy through donor egg or gestational surrogacy, and yet finding someone willing to provide this service without payment is incredibly challenging.”

In Canada, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act prevents surrogates and donors from receiving payment for their services, meaning surrogates are volunteers who can only receive monetary compensation for expenses related to the pregnancy such as antenatal vitamins, maternity clothes, travel costs for medical appointments etc. This is very different from American laws, as some states allow for women to be paid surrogates or egg donors, meaning more women south of the border are open or able to be gestational carriers or donors when compared to those in Canada. As a result, Canadian’s seeking a surrogate or egg donation at home far outnumber those women available, as they depend on them to volunteer.

This issue is exacerbated by the fact that Canada is becoming well-known around the world as a “cheap” place to find altruistic surrogates or donors, especially to those from countries that have outlawed surrogacy such as France and Germany. More hopeful parents from around the world seeking surrogates and donors from Canada means less women available to volunteer for this position.

In Spring of 2018, a private member's bill was put forward to the House of Commons proposing to decriminalize the compensation of egg donors and gestational carriers in Canada. At the same time, the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society (CFAS) put out a position statement in support of fair compensation for egg donors and gestational carriers in Canada. The CFAS believes that fair compensation will encourage more women to consider donating eggs or becoming surrogates, which will in turn reduce wait-times and expenses for those seeking to build their families in this way. This amendment would also cut down on the "underground market", which offers no protection for those involved in these private financial transactions.

Dr. Jones is in support of this bill and hopes that the amendment will be accepted. “It is time we supported appropriate compensation for these incredibly generous women and allowed Canadians in need of these services to have better access to them here in Canada.”

Read more about the journey of some of these altruistic surrogates on the BBC News website.

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