April 14, 2024

Canada passes stem cell bill

The Canadian Parliament has passed a bill which will allow research on spare IVF embryos, but not therapeutic cloning. The bill also bans reproductive cloning, sex selection, the sale of sperm or eggs and commercial surrogacy. Fertility clinics will be monitored by a new Assisted Human Reproduction Agency. Health Minister Pierre Pettigrew says that the legislation “fills a legislative void” and puts Canada in line with policies adopted by other major industrialised countries. The bill still requires the assent of the governor general before it becomes law, but that is considered a formality.

The ban on the sale of eggs and sperm will hurt infertile couples, some lobby groups complained. Beverly Hanck, head of the Infertility Awareness Association, said that egg donation takes 56 hours and that “there isn’t a woman alive who is going to do this for nothing.” Cathy Roberto, the head of Canada’s largest sperm bank, Repromed, said that 77% of its suppliers would not donate without “appropriate compensation”.