Conservative MP Dean Del Mastro will introduce a private member's bill Monday that would legalize the practice of paying surrogate mothers to carry a child.
Section 6 of Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act says "no person shall pay consideration to a female person to be a surrogate mother" and "no person shall accept consideration for arranging for the services of a surrogate mother."
Oddly enough, it is completely legal for Canadians to pay a surrogate in a foreign country (e.g. in the United States) and to bring that child back to Canada as a citizen.
Del Mastro hopes to change those "hypocritical" laws.
In a telephone interview with Yahoo Canada News on Friday, the MP from Peterborough said that this is a personal issue for him.
"My heart was really changed on [this issue]. I had friends that could not have children on their own and they went through this process. They actually contracted the services of a surrogate in the United States," Del Mastro said, adding that 10 per cent of Canadian women cannot conceive a child.
"It was really expensive. Really difficult because even though they were established as Canadians born abroad, the steps that you had to go through in order to bring them home...the additional difficulty that people shouldn't have to go through."
According to the National Review, many countries in the world actually ban the practice of surrogacy; a lot of other countries including Australia and Japan prohibit commercial surrogacy.
But in the United States, as explained by Surrogatemothers.com, the average "for-fee" surrogate mother in the U.S. earns approximately US$20,000 to $25,000. There are also other costs (agency fees, legal fees, medical and insurance costs) that can boost the price of having a baby to between $100,000 and $150,000.
Surrogacy has become a $3-billion industry south of the border.
The concern and probably the reason for the current laws in Canada is that allowing commercial surrogacy could facilitate fraud and exploitation of women, especially lower-income women.
But Del Mastro advises Canadian provinces whose purview surrogates would fall under to look to Californian laws, which have checks and balances tackling those problems as well as strict rules about surrogacy contracts.
"If you allow the system to be built similar to the one that they have in California... I think you bring some of this out of the shadows," he said.
"Secondly I think you put in place a very structured system that protects against potential exploitation."
Sally Rhoads-Heinrich, a former surrogate mother who runs the website Surrogacy in Canada Online, says that she's thrilled with Del Mastro's initiative.
"It would increase the number of surrogate mothers willing to help and [increase the number of] intended parents being able to build the family they long for," she told Yahoo.
"Commercialization would see surrogate mothers receive payment for not only their expenses but for their time and the time taken away from their own children and spouses. It would give surrogate mothers the opportunity to stay home if they desire for an extra year with their own children while helping to bring the next generation of Canadians into the world.
"Since the current legislation has been in place we have unfortunately seen surrogate mothers being left with dissolved relationships with intended parents due to expense disputes, expenses not being reimbursed by intended parents and even bankruptcy. Surrogate mothers dedicate a year of their life when they decide to help repeated trips to IVF clinics, appointments, medications/injectables, bloodwork as well as pregnancy/birth/post partum."
What do you think?
Should surrogates in Canada be commercialized?