Sue Careless

The Interim

In the US donor insemination is offered as a commercial service and is worth $165 million a year. Regulation falls to individual states.

It is thought that the long-awaited legislation on new reproductive technologies will also outlaw commercial contracts for surrogate mothers, ban prenatal diagnoses for sex-selection purposes, and lout the sale of human eggs, embryos, fetuses or fetal tissue.

In a letter to the Globe and Mail, June 12, Dr Patricia Baird, former chair of the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies wrote “There are health risks to women having their eggs taken out. Immediate risks include ovarian hyper stimulation syndrome, bleeding infection, while a longer term potential risk is an increase in ovarian cancer. It is one thing to take these risks for one’s own chance of pregnancy; it is another to undertake it for payment.

“Which fully informed women would undertake these risks for money?… It certainly wouldn’t be the well-off wives of clinic directors…certainly some individuals gain benefits from the commercialization of reproduction, but is at the expenses of exploiting others.

“The commission heard a strong consensus that some things are not for sale—only does their sale open up the probability of exploitation, but they are too close to human identify to be commodities on the market.”

Baird and the commission, however, did recommend some monitored, non-profit reproduction technologies. For instance, “to take into account the interests of women who are infertile, we recommended egg donation, (not egg selling) be permitted by a women already having egg retrieval if more eggs are retrieved than needed for her own treatment.”

Beth Goheen of the Department of National Affairs for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada wrote in the same issue, “It may be true that there would be less sperm and eggs available if they were not paid for, but does that mean that they should be available through any circumstance?

“Adoption places a child who has an unacceptable family life or none at all into a home with a family. Surrogacy creates a child to be given away for financial gain. It deliberately makes a family and then breaks it. Should choice and commerce really be the ultimate values in these issues? The issue here is children, and children are not communities.”

Dr. Suzanne Scorsone, a member of the Royal Commission on new Reproduction Technologies, applauds the decommercialization of assisted insemination. “There should be no buying or selling of human reproduction. We are imposing a number of burdens to which the child never consented, including choosing to be bought and sold.”

Dr. Scorsone, who is Director of the Office of Family Life for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Toronto, believers that on must distinguish between what one would recommend as governmental policy for all of society and what one would hold to within a specific faith community.

The Catholic community recognizes that, “Sex is too important to be bypassed or replaced. We are pro-sex,” says Scorsone. “The Donum Vitae ‘Gift of Life’ recognizes that infertility recognizes that assist in the normal marital relationship are acceptable. Ones that alter or frustrate (physically or relationally) are not (such as third party).”

“Some Catholic theologians hold that the husband’s sperm, retrieved from the marital act, would be morally viable, but sperm gathered by masturbation, even from the husband, would not,” says Scorsone,” because masturbation devalues the sexual union.”