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Canada Seeks to Ban Surrogate Motherhood

<i> From Associated Press</i>

The Canadian government introduced sweeping legislation Friday to ban pay-for-pregnancy procedures, including paid surrogate motherhood and the sale of eggs, sperm and embryos.

The bill to regulate the use of technology in reproduction would also outlaw sex selection of babies in virtually all cases.

“We are acting today to set boundaries on the use of new reproductive technologies,” Health Minister David Dingwall said in a statement accompanying the bill.

The Liberal Party government’s large majority in Parliament makes passage of the bill a near-certainty.

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The law would make Canada one of a handful of countries with such tough rules. In the United States, most states have allowed reproductive technologies to advance with few hindrances.

Maximum penalties in the Canadian bill are a fine of $365,000 and a 10-year prison term.

The government said the banned procedures pose serious risks to human health and safety.

“They include practices that commercialize reproduction and are contrary to the principles of human dignity, respect for life and protection of the vulnerable,” the Health Department said.

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The legislation follows years of debate and study, including a 1993 report by a government commission that urged firm limits on scientific advances related to human reproduction.

“We’re saying something as a country about how important we think human beings are,” said Suzanne Scorsone, who served on the commission.

Dr. Sam Batarseh, whose Toronto clinic has been involved in surrogate motherhood and other targeted procedures, said the government is exaggerating the commercial aspect of the field.

“It’s not the big business that they’re making it sound,” he said.

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