The House of Commons Standing Health Committee endorsed the federal government’s proposed legislation on reproductive and experimental technologies just before MPs left for a six-week holiday that began just before Christmas.
They made amendments, including disallowing compensation for surrogate mothers and limitting financial compensation for surrogate carriers and egg and sperm donors to “receipted expenses.” The committee allowed rules to stand that permit the anonymous donation of eggs and sperm.
Pro-life groups had hoped that the committee would reconsider Bill C-13, now renamed An Act Respecting Human Reproduction and Related Technologies, because of its commodifaction of human life. The bill allows embryos to be destroyed to harvest their stem cells for research purposes. And American bioethics expert Dianne Irving of American Catholic University has pointed out that the bill doesn’t effectively ban human cloning because the one technique of human cloning that is specified is misdefined.
The Canadian Alliance attempted to have a moratorium or tighter restrictions on the research, but the Liberals used their majority – and the general support of the NDP and the Bloc – to approve it, largely un-amended.
Campaign Life Coalition said that its hopes of recognizing the right to life of all human beings had not been realized by the committee. CLC director of research Hilary White told The Interim, “We hoped that there could be some recognition that the embryonic human being is more than a possession, more than research material, more than a thing that can be bought, sold or used for experiments.”
Having failed to grant the embryonic human any rights, the committee “advanced the anti-family agenda of the current government,” she said.
After a cursory look at the committee’s report, White noted that the committee’s amendments actually made the proposed legislation worse. One amendment says that “persons who seek to undergo assisted reproduction procedures must not be disriminated against, including on the basis of their sexual orientation or marital status.” The committee is saying “that a child can be purchased and used to fulfill the familial fantasies of homosexuals and persons outside of traditional marriage,” she said.
Parliament will debate and vote on Bill C-13 when it returns in late January. Pro-life groups are urging supporters to contact their MPs to urge them to oppose the legislation. Mary Ellen Douglas, CLC national organizer, told The Interim that whatever good it may seem to do, the fact that it permits the wholesale slaughter of embryonic life makes it unacceptable legislation to support.