Cassandra Birch has written this important letter challenging the current political push in Canada towards commodifying women’s bodies through commercial surrogacy. Consider sending this letter to the candidates in your area.
I am writing to you about an issue that I have not heard addressed in this election campaign (nor in Canadian political discourse prior to it). Last year, Liberal MP Anthony Housefather introduced a private members’ bill (C-404) to amend the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. Housefather has been deceptive and disingenuous in language describing his bill, claiming it will “decriminalize” surrogacy in Canada. Surrogacy is not a crime in Canada. Altruistic surrogacy is already permitted. What this bill proposed was to allow commercial surrogacy.
In Canadian civil society, we recognize the ethical dangers of paying for organs or blood donation. Why should women’s wombs (or the use thereof) be different? Legalizing for-profit commercial surrogacy would lead to the exploitation of women and children. The state of New York opted not to pass legislation allowing commercial surrogacy due to concerns from women (1). Nations that have allowed commercial surrogacy are now experiencing ethical fallout. In Ukraine, disabled babies have been abandoned by the parents who planned to purchase them (2). Exploitation of women in India has caused the country to re-consider commercial surrogacy (3). The film “Breeders: A Subclass of Women?” by the Centre for Bioethics and Culture details the harms of surrogacy to women and children, and demonstrates that they are not limited to less developed nations (4).
So I write to you today, as I decide how to vote, to ask about your (and your party’s) position on commercial surrogacy. If this bill is re-introduced in Parliament, how would you vote? Would you stand up for the rights of women and children? Would you advocate against the commercialization of women’s bodies, and the for-profit sale of children? I look forward to knowing the policy positions of your party, and your personal convictions on the issue.