Surrogates’ Voices is a project led by researchers across Canada . The project is working to generate a picture of surrogacy practices and women's experiences as surrogates in Canada.

As demand for surrogacy continues to grow around the world, governments in more and more countries are facing conflicting calls to regulate surrogacy—whether they be calls for growth by decriminalizing paid surrogacy, calls for abolition by prohibiting all surrogacy arrangements, or calls in between for better regulation and practices such as mandating independent legal advice.

Unfortunately, we have very little information on actual surrogacy practices or women’s experiences as surrogates in Canada. Little attention has been paid to the perspectives of women who have acted as surrogates, and very few surrogates have been invited to engage in policy and legislative consultations. The Surrogates’ Voices project aims to fill this gap.

Are you a surrogate in Canada who is 18 years of age or older?

Would you be able to set aside 15–20 minutes to let us know your opinions and experiences as a surrogate? Your input will go toward building a base of knowledge for surrogates, intended parents, clinicians, lawyers, counsellors, policymakers, and more. It will also go toward building a foundation for the conversation on surrogacy in Canada, allowing future changes to law and policy by Canadian governments to be evidence-informed and speak to the lived experiences of surrogates.

This project is being conducted independent from any fertility clinics, surrogacy organizations, or surrogacy agencies, even if these sources have mentioned the project to you. The study has been reviewed and received ethics clearance through a University of Ottawa Research Ethics Board, a University of Waterloo Research Ethics Board, and a University of Alberta Research Ethics Board.

To take the survey, please contact Professor Vanessa Gruben.

Thank you so much for your time and we look forward to hearing from you!

The 519

The 519 is committed to the health, happiness and full participation of the LGBTQ2S communities Toronto-based, the 519 offers a wide range of community programs and services, including counselling.
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BetterHelp

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Crisis Services Canada (CSC)

CSC offers 24/7 support to anyone concerned about suicide.
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eMental Health

eMental Health lists various mental health and social support services to help you find the help you need.

Hope for Wellness Help Line

The Hope for Wellness Help Line offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous peoples across Canada.
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The LifeLine Canada Foundation (TLC)

TLC hosts a free Suicide Prevention and Awareness App, called the LIfeLine App, which offers access and guidance to support for those suffering in crisis, as well as for those struggling with any degree of anxiety or depression.

TeleCBT

TeleCBT.ca is a Canadian online counseling service that specializes in the use of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT).
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Togetherall

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Book cover

Surrogacy in Canada: Critical Perspective in Law and Policy book brings together a range of critical perspectives on the governance of surrogacy in Canada. The chapters offer insight into how to address the challenges of regulating surrogacy (in Canada and elsewhere), and how to (re)think the governance of surrogacy in ways that address the health, well-being, and autonomy of surrogates. It also provides long-awaited empirical data about how surrogacy in Canada is occurring. In a critical period when long-awaited regulations on reimbursement are being developed and proposals for major reforms of the existing regulatory framework are being made, this book identifies important concerns about the experience of surrogacy in Canada, and makes recommendations for change. In particular, the chapters address: the ongoing struggle to address women's autonomy in the context of surrogacy; the lack of empirical research on surrogacy and the importance of this type of research in developing effective and responsive law and policy in Canada; complex governance questions that arise under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act and the ongoing debate about whether the Act should be reformed; and issues of internationalization, including the practice of transnational surrogacy, whether it be Canadians seeking surrogates abroad or foreign intended parents seeking surrogates in Canada.

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Read the Introduction: English | French >

Additional Materials

Two chapters were written in French and then translated into English for publication. The original French is available here:

Kévin Lavoie & Isabel Côté : « Naviguer en eaux troubles: Les enjeux légaux découlant de l’absence d’encadrement de la gestation pour autrui au Québec »

Maria De Koninck : « Postface: Le légitimation du recours aux mères porteuses — un recul social »

Commentary

Sperm Is Property: So Says the Court
Vanessa Gruben & Angela Cameron. Impact Ethics 2013.

Funding One IVF Treatment Is not the Answer to Infertility
Alana Cattapan. Impact Ethics 2014.

Why Ontario’s IVF Funding Structure Is not the Answer
Alanna Cattapan, TVO 2015.

Surrogacy in Canada Should Give Us Cause for Concern
Vanessa Gruben & Pamela White, The Globe and Mail 2016.

Hidden From View: Canadian Surrogacy
Pamela White. Impact Ethics 2016.

Canada Is a Booming Foreign Surrogacy Destination
Pamela White. Impact Ethics 2016.

Egg Donors and Surrogates Need High-Quality Care
Alana Cattapan & Françoise Baylis, The Conversation 2017.

Articles

Faire famille au 21e siècle : éclairages scientifiques pour une réforme du droit de la famille adaptée aux réalités familiales contemporaines. Mémoire présenté dans le cadre des consultations particulières et des auditions publiques
pour le projet de loi no 2 : Loi portant sur la réforme du droit de la famille en matière de filiation et modifiant le Code civil en matière de droits de la personnalité et d’état civil.

Privacy and Donor Anonymity

Donor Anonymity in Canada: Assessing the Obstacles to Openness and Considering a Way Forward
Gruben, Cameron. Alberta Law Review 2017.

Donor Unknown: Assessing the Section 15 Rights of Donor-Conceived Offspring
Gruben, Gilbert. Can J Fam L 2010.

Assisted Reproduction Without Assisting Over-Collection: Fair Information Practices and the Assisted Human Reproduction Agency of Canada
Gruben. Health L J 2009.

De-Anonymising Sperm Donors in Canada: Some Doubts and Directions
Cameron, Gruben, Kelly. Can J Fam L 2010.

Egg Donation

Women as Patients, Not Spare Parts: Examining the Relationship Between the Physician and Women Egg Providers
Gruben. Canadian Journal of Women and the Law 2013.

Moral Evils v. Health and Safety Evils: The Case of an Ovum Obtained from a Donor and Used by the Donor in Her Own Surrogate Pregnancy
White. Can J Fam L 2018.

Egg Freezing

Social Egg Freezing: Risk, Benefits and Other Considerations
Petropanagos, Cattapan, Baylis, Leader. CMAJ 2015.

Freezing as Freedom? A Regulatory Approach to Elective Egg Freezing and Women's Reproductive Autonomy
Gruben. Alberta Law Review 2017.

LGBTQ+

Regulating the Queer Family: The Assisted Human Reproduction Act
Cameron. Can J Fam L 2008.

La lesboparentalité : Subversion ou reproduction des normes?
Côté. Recherches féministes 2010.

« J’ai aidé deux femmes à fonder leur famille » : Le don de gamètes entre particuliers en contexte Québécois
Côté, Lavoie, de Montigny. Enfances, Familles, Générations 2015.

De la procréation «assistée par» autrui à la procréation «négociée avec» autrui : Dialogue autour de la place du tiers donneur dans le projet parental de mères lesbiennes au Québec
Côté, Lavoie. Revue Quetelet 2016.

Surrogacy

Reproductive Surrogacy in Canada
Nelson. Handbook of Gestational surrogacy: International clinical practice and policy issues 2016.

Tort’s Response to Surrogate Motherhood: Providing Surrogates with a Remedy for Breached Agreements
Carsley. UBC Law Review 2013.

Reconceiving Quebec's Laws on Surrogate Motherhood
Carsley. Canadian Bar Review 2018.

Regulating Reimbursements for Surrogate Mothers
Carsley. Alberta Law Review 2021.

Revisiting the Handmaid's Tale: Feminist Theory Meets Empirical Research on Surrogate Mothers
Busby, Vun. Can J Fam L 2010.

IVF Funding

Medical Necessity and the Public Funding of In Vitro Fertilization in Ontario
Cattapan. Canadian Journal of Political Science 2019.

Funding In Vitro Fertilization: Exploring the Health and Justice Implications of Quebec’s Policy
Carsley. Health Law Review 2012.

Embryos

An Investigation of Embryo Donation, Informed Consent, and Research Oversight in Canadian Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Nelson, Ogbogu, Caulfield. Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology 2007.

Consent to Embryo Donation for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Nelson. Health L Rev 2008.

“One for Sorrow, Two for Joy?”: American Embryo Transfer Guideline Recommendations, Practices, and Outcomes for Gestational Surrogate Patients
White. J Assist Reprod Genet 2017.

Rethinking Canadian Legal Approaches to Frozen Embryo Disputes
Carsley. Can J Fam L 2014.

Frozen in Perpetuity: ‘Abandoned Embryos’ in Canada
Cattapan, Baylis. Reproductive Biomedicine & Society Online 2015.

ART – Law, Ethics and Policy

Law, Policy and Reproductive Autonomy
Nelson. 2013.

Autonomy, Equality, and Access to Sexual and Reproductive Health Care
Nelson. Alta L Rev 2017.

Legal and Ethical Issues in ART Outcomes Research
Nelson. Health L J 2005.

Comparative Perspectives on the Regulation of Assisted Reproductive Technologies in Canada and the United Kingdom
Nelson. Alta L Rev 2006.

DNA, Donor Offspring and Derivative Citizenship: Redefining Parentage under the Citizenship Act
Carsley. Dalhousie Law Journal 2016.

Exploiting the Fiduciary Relationship: The Physician as Information Intermediary in Assisted Human Reproduction
Gruben. Health Law Review 2009.

Reconceiving Pregnancy: Expressive Choice and Legal Reasoning
Nelson. McGill L J 2004.

Women’s Reproductive Health and “Failure Speak”
Moore, Cattapan. CMAJ 2020.

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Karen Busby

Karen Busby

Professor of Law
Director, Centre for Human Rights Research
University of Manitoba

Karen Busby is professor of law and the director of the Centre for Human Rights Research (CHRR) at the University of Manitoba. She has been with the Faculty since 1988, and she was the founding Director of the CHRR. Recipient of the University of Manitoba’s highest teaching award in 2015 (the Saunderson Award for Teaching Excellence), she teaches Constitutional Law, Gender and the Law, Human Rights and Administrative Law. She has a J.D. (Manitoba, 1981) and LL.M. (Columbia, 1988). She was called to the Manitoba Bar in 1982 and she practiced for a year with Thompson, Dorfman, Sweatman. After studying in France for a year, she was the first clerk with the Federal Court of Appeal (1984–87). Her work focuses on law related is various ways to sex (including violence, assisted reproduction, sex work, and sexual orientation), religion (Including a project on Muslim women) and politics (including drinking water and sanitation in First Nations communities).

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Angela Cameron

Angela Cameron

Professor of Law
Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics
University of Ottawa

Angela Cameron is an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. She holds the Shirley E. Greenberg Chair for Women and the Legal Profession. Her research is generally in the area of social justice, with particular attention to the equality rights and interests of women. Her research and publications are mainly in the areas of assisted reproductive technologies, violence against women, and Indigenous-settler relations. She is the Chair of FAFIA, a national feminist NGO, and has worked on a variety of law reform and activism projects within the feminist and LGBTQ+ communities.

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Stefanie Carsley

Stefanie Carsley

Professor of Law
Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics
University of Ottawa

Stefanie Carsley is an Assistant Professor at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Law, Common Law Section. Her research focuses on Canadian law and policy responses to assisted reproduction (in vitro fertilization, surrogate motherhood and sperm, egg and embryo donation). Stefanie earned her Bachelor of Arts (BA, 2007) and Bachelor of Civil Law/Bachelor of Laws (BCL/LLB, 2011) degrees at McGill University and her Master of Laws (LLM, 2013) at the University of Toronto. Prior to returning to McGill to pursue her doctorate, she clerked for the Honourable Madam Justice Johanne Trudel at the Federal Court of Appeal. She was called to the Bar in Ontario in 2014. Stefanie’s doctoral dissertation draws on qualitative interviews with Canadian fertility lawyers to assess the strengths and shortcomings of laws that criminalize paid surrogacy, establish the parentage of children born to surrogate mothers and define the legal status of surrogacy contracts.

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Alana Cattapan

Alana Cattapan

Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Reproduction
Professor of Political Science
University of Waterloo

Alana Cattapan is the Canada Research Chair in the Politics of Reproduction (Tier II) and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Waterloo. A longtime feminist researcher and activist, she studies women's participation in policy making—identifying links between the state, the commercialization of the body, biotechnologies, and reproductive labour. Cattapan's work is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, and the Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation. Her research is interdisciplinary and has been published in journals across a range of fields, including Studies in Political Economy, the Journal of Medical Ethics, the Canadian Medical Association Journal, and the Canadian Journal of Law and Society.

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Isabel Côté

Isabel Côté

Canada Research Chair in Gestational Surrogacy and Family Ties
Professor of Social Work
Université du Québec en Outaouais

Isabel Côté is an associate professor in the Department of Social Work at the Université du Québec en Outaouais. She holds the Canada Research Chair in Surrogate Motherhood and Family Ties and is interested in parental projects that are brought to life through the contribution of others, notably gamete or embryo donors or surrogate women. Its approach aims to develop a global understanding of surrogate reproduction by crossing the viewpoints of all parties, namely parents, third-party procreators, the children thus conceived and extended families. Based on innovative qualitative methodologies, her work combines theoretical contributions from the sociology of the family, the anthropology of kinship, and feminist and LGBTQ studies.

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Alicia Czarnowski

Alicia Czarnowski

Ph.D. Candidate in Law
University of Ottawa

Alicia Czarnowski is a PhD candidate at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. She completed her law degree at the same institution, where she received the McCarthy Tétrault LLP Second Year Prize for highest standing in the JD Program, as well as the Osgoode Society Prize for Canadian Legal History, awarded to the top 10 graduating students. Alicia went on to clerk for Justice Fothergill at the Federal Court of Canada, before returning to her formal studies. Alicia’s research focuses on health law, with a particular interest in assisted human reproduction. Alicia’s LLM examined how Canadian Blood Services could serve as a model for pan-Canadian governance of reproductive technologies. Her current research aims to gather empirical evidence on Canadian surrogacy agencies, in order to better understand their role. Alicia is also working with the Organ Donation and Transplantation Collaborative’s Working Group on Decision-Making and Accountability.

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Vanessa Gruben

Vanessa Gruben

Professor of Law
Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics
University of Ottawa

Vanessa Gruben is an associate professor and a member of the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law, where she teaches health law and family law. Her research focuses on the legal and ethical aspects of assisted reproduction, including the constitutionality of Canada's Assisted Human Reproduction Act, the legal relationship between egg donors and their physicians, the constitutionality of anonymous sperm and egg donation, access to reproductive technologies, and the existing gaps in provincial law for families created through third-party reproduction. Gruben's work is funded by the Social Science and Humanities and Research Council, Canadian Blood Services, and the Foundation for Legal Research. She is a co-editor of the fifth edition of Canadian Health Law and Policy (LexisNexis Canada, 2017).

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Marie-Claude Léveillé

Marie-Claude Léveillé

Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology
University of Ottawa

Dr. Léveillé is currently an Assistant Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Ottawa, an Affiliate Investigator at the Ottawa Research Institute and the Scientific Director of the Ottawa Fertility Centre. She is a founding member of the ART Lab Special Interest Group of the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society, and was its President from 2011 to 2012. She is also an active member of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, the European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology, the Alpha International Society of Scientists in Reproductive Medicine and the Society for Study of Reproduction. Dr. Léveillé’s expertise includes quality assurance and all laboratory-related areas in assisted human reproduction. She is involved in the development of professional standards for ART laboratories and is collaborating with scientific colleagues on studies to improve assisted reproductive technologies.

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Erin Nelson

Erin Nelson

Professor of Law
University of Alberta

Erin Nelson is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law at the University of Alberta. She holds a BScPT and an LLB from the University of Alberta, and LLM and JSD degrees from Columbia University. Professor Nelson clerked at the Supreme Court of Canada and completed her articles, then spent two years as Project Manager at the Health Law Institute at the University of Alberta. She joined the Faculty of Law in 2000, and teaches Tort Law, Health Care Ethics and the Law, Law and Medicine and Health Law and Policy. Her research interests span the health law spectrum, and include women's health, reproductive health, end-of-life decision-making, organ and tissue donation, and the interface of health care law and ethics. She has published articles and book chapters on a number of health law related topics.

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Pamela White

Pamela White

Pamela White
Lecturer in Medical Law
University of Kent, U.K.

Since 2013, Dr. Pamela White has been teaching Medical Law and Data Protection Law at Kent Law School, University of Kent. Previously she worked in Canada as Chief Privacy Officer Statistics Canada and held senior Director positions in departmental divisions such as Demography and Health Data Analysis. She holds a PhD in Human Geography, McGill University and from Kent Law School, University of Kent a LLM (Distinction). Dr White’s research interests centre on Canada’s misplaced reproductive law and laissez-faire regulation of fertility treatments. She uses assisted Canadian and USA reproductive registry information and birth registration data to examine compliance to professional fertility treatment guidelines and to profile surrogacy practices and outcomes. She has interviewed women and men about the decisions they have made regarding the use, donation, storage, and disposition of gamete and embryos.

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