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Law Medical Law & Legislation

Surrogacy in Canada

Critical Perspectives in Law and Policy

contributions by Vanessa Gruben, Alana Cattapan, Angela Cameron, Karen Busby, Isabel Côté, Maria De Koninck, Katy Fulfer, Kévin Lavoie, Mark C. McLeod, Christine Overall, Angel Petropanagos & Pamela M. White

Irwin Law Inc.
Initial publish date
Nov 2018
Medical Law & Legislation, Children, Gender & the Law, Health
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    Nov 2018
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This book brings together a range of critical perspectives on the governance of surrogacy in Canada. The chapters offer insight into how to address the challenges of regulating surrogacy (in Canada and elsewhere), and how to (re)think the governance of surrogacy in ways that address the health, well-being, and autonomy of surrogates. It also provides long-awaited empirical data about how surrogacy in Canada is occurring. In a critical period when long-awaited regulations on reimbursement are being developed and proposals for major reforms of the existing regulatory framework are being made, this book identifies important concerns about the experience of surrogacy in Canada, and makes recommendations for change. In particular, the chapters address: the ongoing struggle to address women’s autonomy in the context of surrogacy; the lack of empirical research on surrogacy and the importance of this type of research in developing effective and responsive law and policy in Canada; complex governance questions that arise under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and the ongoing debate about whether the Act should be reformed; and issues of internationalization, including the practice of transnational surrogacy, whether it be Canadians seeking surrogates abroad or foreign intended parents seeking surrogates in Canada.

About the authors

Vanessa Gruben is an associate professor and a member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Common Law, where she teaches health law and family law. Her research focuses on the legal and ethical aspects of assisted reproduction, including the constitutionality of Canada’s Assisted Human Reproduction Act, the legal relationship between egg donors and their physicians, the constitutionality of anonymous sperm and egg donation, access to reproductive technologies, and the existing gaps in provincial law for families created through third-party reproduction. Gruben’s work is funded by the Social Science and Humanities and Research Council, Canadian Blood Services, and the Foundation for Legal Research. She is a co-editor of the fifth edition of Canadian Health Law and Policy (LexisNexis Canada, 2017).


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Alana Cattapan is an assistant professor at the Johnson Shoyama Graduate School of Public Policy and an associate member of the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology in the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan. A longtime feminist researcher and activist, she studies women’s participation in policy making — identifying links between the state, the commercialization of the body, biotechnologies, and reproductive labour. Cattapan’s work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. Her research is interdisciplinary and has been published in journals across a range of fields, including Studies in Political Economy, the Journal of Medical Ethics, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Canadian Journal of Law and Society.


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Angela Cameron received her LLB from Dalhousie University in 1998, and was admitted to the Nova Scotia Bar in 1999. She received her LLM from the University of British Columbia in 2003 and her Doctorate from the University of Victoria in 2012. She was an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow, and a President’s Research Scholar at the University of Victoria. Professor Cameron’s research is generally in the area of social justice, with a particular focus on the equality interests of women. Professor Cameron’s research areas include criminal law, restorative justice, property law, reproductive technologies law, family law, legal theory, sociological approaches to law, and human rights law. She is the administrator of


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Karen Busby is a professor of law and the director of the Centre for Human Rights Research at the University of Manitoba. Her research focuses on laws relating to sex, gender, and sexuality including sexual assault, sexual expression, sex work, wife abuse, and assisted reproduction. Throughout her thirty-year career as an academic, Busby has also worked with various litigation and law reform projects with organizations seeking national equality.

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Isabel Côté is an associate professor at the Department of Social Work at the Université du Québec en Outaouais and a researcher at the Centre for Studies and Research on Family Intervention, the Familles en mouvance research partnership, and the Réseau québécois en études féministes. Supported by provincial and national funding, her research projects focus on the realization of a parental project with the help of a third party, a sperm donor, or a surrogate. She is particularly interested in the relationship between third parties and intended parents and the resulting children. In collaboration with Kévin Lavoie and Jérôme Courduriès, she directed Perspectives internationales sur la gestation pour autrui: Expériences des personnes concernées et contextes d’action, a collective work published by the Presses de l’Université du Québec in 2018.


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Maria De Koninck is a professor emerita and an associate professor at the Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Université Laval. She was the university’s first chair of women’s studies. She taught in community health and directed its master’s program (2006–2010), lectured medical students on the social determinants of health, and lectured graduate students on research ethics. Her research and publications focus on women’s health, pregnancy and work, childbirth, motherhood and drug abuse, reproductive technologies, ethics, midwifery, and women physicians. She was the principal researcher in a multidisciplinary and multi-​institutional team studying social health inequalities, poverty, and exclusion (1999–2010). She currently collaborates with Laval Faculty of Medicine on professionalism and ethics, and pursues her work in women’s reproductive health.


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Katy Fulfer is an assistant professor of philosophy and women’s studies at the University of Waterloo. Her research interests are primarily in the field of feminist bioethics. Some of her previous publications, which have appeared in journals such as Hypatia, Developing World Bioethics, and IJFAB: International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics, examine the ethics of transnational surrogacy. Her current research examines surrogacy in the Canadian context. She is specifically interested in questions of commodification, exploitation, agency, and moral deliberation in assisted reproduction. In addition, Fulfer’s research examines these concepts in the context of animal ethics and in the context of the philosophy of Hannah Arendt.


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Kévin Lavoie is a PhD candidate in applied human sciences at the Université de Montréal. He received the Vanier Graduate Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Laval University and a master’s degree from the University of Quebec in Outaouais (UQO), both in social work. His current research focuses on assisted human reproduction: sperm donation outside the reproductive health system, as well as the experiences of women involved in egg donation and surrogacy agreements in Canada. With Isabel Côté and Jérôme Courduriès, he co-edited the volume Perspectives internationales sur la gestation pour autrui: expériences des personnes concernées et contextes d’action (2018).


Kévin Lavoie's profile page

Mark C McLeod is a research associate with Impact Ethics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia. NTE: Impact Ethics is an interdisciplinary research team that does research at the intersection of health, bioethics, and public policy. McLeod previously worked as a policy analyst at the Assisted Human Reproduction Implementation Office (AHRIO) of Health Canada. He developed and identified policy-related issues concerning assisted human reproduction and other related biological sciences under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. He is also a barrister and solicitor.


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Christine Overall is a professor emerita of philosophy and holds a University Research Chair at Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario. She is an elected fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and has received two research awards from the Royal Society. She held the Humphrey Professorship in Feminist Philosophy at the University of Waterloo (2003), the Nancy’s Chair in Women’s Studies at Mount Saint Vincent University (2006–2007), and the Visiting Professorship in Canadian Studies at Kwansei Gakuin University in Japan (2011–2012). Her research is in the areas of feminist philosophy, applied philosophy, and philosophy of religion. She has published over a hundred articles and book chapters, many of which have been republished. She is the author of six books, including Why Have Children: The Ethical Debate (MIT Press, 2012) and the editor of five books, including Pets and People: The Ethics of Our Relationships with Companion Animals (Oxford University Press, 2017).


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Angel Petropanagos is the quality improvement ethicist at William Osler Health System (Brampton, Ontario). She is also the co-managing editor of the Impact Ethics website (, the co-chair for the Canadian Fertility & Andrology Society’s Ethics and Law special interest group, and a board member of the Canadian Bioethics Society. Her primary research explores ethical issues related to fertility preservation and assisted reproduction. She regularly contributes to the review and development of policy and guideline documents, and provides freelance ethics consultation support to fertility clinics.


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Pamela M. White is a specialist associate lecturer, Kent Law School, University of Kent, where she teaches undergraduate and LLM degree courses in medical law and ethics, and privacy and data protection law. She also teaches undergraduate medical law at Canterbury Christchurch University. Her research interests focus on the interface of medical law, bioethics, regulation, and population health policy. In her published work, she melds qualitative and quantitative data analysis with critical legal studies. Her scholarship draws on her extensive experience in the Canadian federal government where she was a senior director managing health, social, and demographic research. She has held assignments with the Office of Canadian Federal Privacy Commissioner, the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada, and the Population Health and Genomics Foundation, Cambridge.


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Editorial Reviews

"This book is well organized and includes a thorough index. Contributors, largely Canadian academics, back up their arguments and analysis with references to legislation, regulations, Royal Commission findings and reports, media articles, and case studies, all serving to situate the reader at the heart of the issues presented. Extensive footnotes and a table of cases reflect this strong foundation in legal and related sources.

A fascinating read, this book is a welcome addition to existing literature appearing on this topic and will introduce many to the Canadian context. Canada’s proximity to the United States, a factor in the increasing internationalization and interest in Canada as a surrogate-seeking destination, makes this book of interest for legal scholars and practitioners beyond Canada’s borders. Insightful examination of complex questions will ensure this book’s value in relevant courses and research collections."

Margo Jeske, Special Projects Librarian, Brian Dickson Law Library, University of Ottawa, Law Library Journal, Vol. 111:3 (2019), 445

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