Getting Involved III: Redefining Parentage

In previous posts, I've talked about two of our new projects, on the last stages of life and on defamation and the internet. Likely we'll start the last stages of life in the spring and will have to consider how it might relate to issues of assisted death, although we won't know how the federal government intends to respond to the Supreme Court of Canada's decision in Carter for some time.

In this post, I'll focus on a third new project, redefining parentage. We'll be working towards a systematic way to address issues arising from new reproductive technologies and evolving conceptions of the family, and the interaction between the two. While court cases have dealt with some of these issues, and other jurisdictions have made some strides, Ontario lacks a legislative framework that acknowledges how different parenting relationships are from years ago. This is a situation in which reality has surpaased the law.

For example, what is the status of sperm donated anonymously to a same sex couple? If property, who owns it. This was the issue in JCM v. ANA, a B.C. case. On member of a former spousal couple wanted to use the sperm donation ("gametes") to have a child with another partner, while the other member of the couple wanted to destroy it. The judge found it to be property and divided the 13 gametes equally between the two former partners (or, if necessary, 6 to one and 7 to the other).

The Manitoba Law Reform Commission has issued a discussion paper on reproductive technology and legal parentage and birth registration. Other jurisdictions have also taken steps in this area. Quebec has also amended its Civil Code to address questions arising from assisted reproductive technologies.

There are many issues this project must address, including parenting rights of third party donors, and whether the circumstances of the donation and the agreement among the parties at that time affect the answer, the rights of single persons who choose to have children, the difference between social and biological relationships as far as recognition of parenting is concerned, the status of multi-party relationships and more. 

Let us know if you are interested in being involved in the redefining parentage project. As with all our projects, we'll be creating an advisory group, undertaking pro-active consultations and speaking generally to and inviting feedback to our discussion paper and interim report from academic and medical experts, among others, and from those directly affected by the law in this area.    



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