Bioethics Blogs

The Contentious Issue of Surrogacy in Quebec

Audrey L’Espérance advocates for collaborative policy making on surrogacy in Quebec.

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Recent reports that radio host Joël Legendre would be the father of twins via surrogate mother spurred debate over surrogacy arrangements and assisted reproduction in Quebec. In response to the news, Quebec Health Minister Gaétan Barrette claimed the problem lies with Quebec’s IVF program and that he would act on the matter following the impending release of the report of the Commissaire à la Santé et au Bien-Être.

On June 6th 2014, the report was published, reviewing Quebec’s program of public funding for assisted reproductive technologies. Quite rightly, the report considered that surrogacy requires focused debate and cannot be addressed properly in a review of the existing IVF program. The report emphasized stakeholder concerns about the inadequacy of the law and the urgent need to address the question of how to regulate surrogacy.

While surrogacy is a medical concern, it is not the public health insurance program’s role to rewrite relevant policy. Surrogacy exists at the intersection of health and law and requires collaboration in the decision-making process, meaning that we should look to the combined efforts of the Minister of Health and the Minister of Justice.

Children of the Sea, Jazef Israëls, Rijksstudio

Children of the Sea, Jazef Israëls, Rijksstudio

To add to the concerns expressed in the report, the Quebec Court of Appeal released a decision last week, conferring legal weight to surrogacy contracts, which are considered null under Quebec law. The case primarily concerned a couple who asked a friend to carry their child for the second time.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.