Canadian law bans cloning, allows embryonic research

A controversial bill, which bans some assisted human reproduction measures and regulates human embryos, was passed by the Canadian Senate without amendment last month, reported the Canadian Catholic News.

It was also passed without a government agency in place to monitor and regulate embryonic research. A government senior policy analyst said such an agency would not be created for another few years.

Over the past decade, Bill C-6, the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, had been introduced and resurrected several times in Parliament. It was finally passed March 11 and became official with the royal assent of Governor General Adrienne Clarkson March 29.

Bill C-6 bans human cloning, sex selection, commercial surrogate motherhood contracts and the sale of sperm and eggs; it also sets out rules on human embryonic stem-cell research.

But Francine Manseau, a senior policy analyst with Health Canada, said the agency that will monitor the activities within embryonic stem-cell research would not be created for another few years, the CBC reported March 12.

She said if there are complaints about violations, they will have to be made to police, “who will then be taking the responsibility to enforce the legislation.”

Maureen McTeer, a member of the royal commission on reproductive technologies, said she doesn’t understand why the government is taking so long to consult more people before setting up the monitoring agency.

Bishops’ position

Archbishop Terrence Prendergast, SJ, of Halifax had presented a brief to the Senate committee Feb. 26, on behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB), in opposition to embryonic stem-cell research.

The CCCB said the proposed legislation contains much that is positive, but it is also “deeply flawed”.

The CCCB statement said the bishops did not want to tell Catholic senators how to vote “because it is their responsibility to discern the best was to protect human life and dignity after reflection on all the resources available to them.”

However, several senators took note of the bishops’ presentation before the bill was passed.

‘The best we can do.’

Sen. Yves Morin pointed out that Archbishop Prendergast had reiterated the Church’s opposition to embryonic research “and, for that matter, to all assisted human reproduction.

“That being said, however, he recommended that senators consider the positive elements of the bill, which he saw as being its provisions to ensure the protection of the human embryo and to correct the current alarming absence of regulations concerning embryo research,” said Morin, according to CCN.

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