J Med Ethics 30:527-532 doi:10.1136/jme.2002.002170
  • Reproduction

Reproductive and therapeutic cloning, germline therapy, and purchase of gametes and embryos: comments on Canadian legislation governing reproduction technologies

  1. L Bernier1,
  2. D Grégoire2
  1. 1Law Faculty and Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  2. 2Law Faculty, McGill University, Montreal, Canada
  1. Correspondence to:
 L Bernier
 Biomedical Ethics Unit, McGill University, 3647 Peel St, Montreal, Canada H3A 1X1;
  • Accepted 2 June 2003


In Canada, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act received royal assent on 29 March 2004. The approach proposed by the federal government responds to Canadians’ strong desire for an enforceable legislative framework in the field of reproduction technologies through criminal law. As a result of the widening gap between the rapid pace of technological change and governing legislation, a distinct need was perceived to create a regulatory framework to guide decisions regarding reproductive technologies.

In this article the three main topics covered in the new legislation are commented on: cloning, germline therapy, and purchase of gametes and embryos. Some important issues also covered in the new legislation, such as privacy and access to information, data protection, identity of donors, and inspection, will not be addressed.


  • * In the parliament of Canada, the order paper is the official daily agenda of the House of Commons. The order paper lists all the items that may be brought forward in the House of Commons on that day.

  • Access to medical and/or personal information about donor(s), associated registries, information related to success rates, and legal standards for the protection of the citizen in different cultural traditions of medical secrecy, ownership of medical data, patient autonomy, and professional liability are examples of matters that should be analysed in future work.

  • This is not the state of the law in the Canadian jurisprudence. In Tremblay v Daigle, [1989] 2 SCR 530, it was submitted that granting the fetus the right to life from the moment of conception sets up a potential conflict with the rights of women to personal dignity, bodily integrity, and autonomy. The court held that the right of women to personal dignity, bodily integrity, and autonomy had to be protected and privileged in those circumstances. That jurisprudence is in concordance with the position held in R v Morgentaler, [1988] 1SCR 30.

  • ‡‡ This is a case which recognises the genetic provider’s right to choose or consent to the gift or discarding of frozen embryos, refusing to consider them either person or property.

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