Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Wednesday, May 07, 2014

Parenthood As a Right

"I don't think we can compare a surrogate mother to a sperm donor. The third party who is a sperm donor, his contribution is ten seconds. The surrogate mother's contribution is nine months and it raises fundamental ethical questions about the exploitation of women's bodies, about possible commodification of children, about the right of a child to know its origins."
"Technically it may be discrimination, but when you look in depth, you say, wait, maybe there is a reason for this discrimination."
Law Professor Alain Roy, family law expert, Universite de Montreal

"I am excited right now. I have a secret to tell you."
"Once we have made our payment, they send us a virtual catalogue, and there are about 200 mothers in it with pedigrees, personal stories, why they want to give eggs. We were uncomfortable, as if we were choosing our child like you would choose a car."
Montreal Radio host Joel Legendre
Photo : Facebook

So he and his partner in gay marriage went another route instead. A friend who happened to be female made an offer they couldn't refuse; to be a surrogate mother to allow them to achieve parenthood. Though they would still be using eggs they bought from an American company (bypassing Canadian law that prohibits the sale of human eggs). The two married (to each other) men mixed their sperm to fertilize the purchased eggs which were shipped to Montreal in a frozen state.

The fertilization process was performed for them in a private clinic. There will be twins. And there will be a bit of a mystery with respect to whose sperm will have fathered the resulting children, though perhaps visible familial recognition may at some future date help to clear up that little mystery. They plan, once the two babies are born, to go before a judge along with the surrogate mother for a formal adoption which will declare the two men co-fathers.

"Being gay is not a choice", declared Mr. Legendre during an interview. "You do not choose not to be a parent. My feeling is that everyone has the right." And most certainly he believes that gay men have a perfect right to be parents. That being said, why should the public pay for gay men to arrange for the birth of children through in vitro fertilization? Any more so than should tax dollars be used to fund the procedure for any infertile couples, instead of focusing on life-saving surgery or pharmaceutical interventions in a hard-pressed public universality system of medicare?

The thrill of expecting a child to arrive to enrich the lives of these two men who clearly are not short of money of their own to fund their child-bearing procedure, is not particularly thrilling in the context of shifting responsibility to pay onto the taxpayer. Moreover, this radio host openly boasted of his persuasive powers in influencing Quebec's health insurance board to cover the $5,000 cost associated with the medical procedure ... all the more absurd since the province discourages surrogacy.

As far as family law expert Professor Alain Roy is concerned, Quebec's health insurance board was "completely premature" in allowing themselves to be persuaded to cover the cost of the medical procedure for Mr. Legendre and his four-years-committed partner, Junior Bombardier. Quebec's Civil Code explicitly states "any agreement whereby a woman undertakes to procreate or carry a child for another person is absolutely null". The woman carrying the child to delivery remains the legal mother, under Quebec law, in other words.

Quebec has just had a change in government from the Parti Quebecois to the Liberals. When the new Liberal Health Minister Gaetan Barrette was previously head of the province's federation of medical specialists, Dr. Barrette had been known for criticizing the IVF program as "an open bar" to misuse. An opinion that proved prescient. Now, as a member of the new Liberal government Cabinet, he states that the program is in need of clearer parameters, which he plans to undertake after receiving a report on the issue.

That "open bar" has resulted in a cash-strapped province facing a far greater demand for the service than had been anticipated when the province opened itself to paying for IVF in a spirit of social welfare commitment. The current annual $60-million price tag is double what the forecast was when Quebec distinguished itself through yet another one of its socially advanced programs to become the first province in Canada to fully fund IVF in 2010.

As far as Mr. Legendre and his partner are concerned he is entitled to having the costs picked up by the taxpayer, judging it unacceptably discriminatory that a lesbian couple could anticipate to have their IVF treatment covered by the province, and two gay men could not. His and his partner's yearnings to raise a family will be realized, when the two men begin to raise their two little girls, courtesy of the Canadian taxpayer.

For it is not only Quebec taxes that will be used to furnish the two men with what they believe to be their entitled right. Quebec receives the largest portion of the federal transfer of pooled provincial taxes through the handout called "equalization", ostensibly to enable each of the provinces in confederation to offer to their citizens a similar level of services.

However, in Quebec's case, the largesse extracted from the "have" provinces to the "have not" results in social services available in that one particular province far exceeding any that can be seen in the others. Including the "have" provinces. No word about whether they anguish over having to spend their own dime on the family car of their choice.

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