Current Uniform Acts

Assisted Human Reproduction Working Group Report 2009

A.  Increasing Use of AHR as Method for Establishing Families:

[5]  Infertility is a real barrier to many Canadians who wish to create a family.  It is estimated that there is a 7 – 8.5% infertility rate in Canada[4].   This equates to over a quarter of a million couples in Canada being affected.[5]  The demand for AHR may increase as: more couples seek infertility services, especially those waiting until later in life to start a family, people become more comfortable with using such treatment, costs are decreasing[6] and fewer children are available for adoption.  Certainly, fertility for women decreases after the age of 30.  The causes of infertility are multiple however for both males and females.  Often, couple infertility can be attributed to more than one cause

[6]  That said, there are concerns that access to AHR is limited by the lack of access to a broader range of donors.  There are also concerns about lack of legal certainty around the status of the donor vis-à-vis their obligations and rights towards a resulting child or the rights or protections for donors, recipients or children towards each other, including relevant information.[7]

[7]  There are two basic types of AHR treatments:
  • Artificial Insemination [AI] – non-intercourse insemination leading to fertilization within the body of the woman; and
  • In vitro fertilization [IVF] – fertilization outside the body of the woman.
[8]  As well during IVF, more embryos can be created than are needed for immediate use, and often these are frozen for transfer into the woman at a later date – this is Frozen Embryo Transfer [FET].

[9]  IVF and FET are being used by many people in Canada for creating their families, according to data collected annually by the Canadian Fertility and Andrology Society.  In 2007, there were over 13,000 treatment cycles performed by Canadian fertility clinics, an increase of 10.7% from 2006. Births from IVF and FET treatments represent approximately 1% of all births in Canada:  3,530 children were born from cycles (and resultant pregnancies) started in 2005, compared with 354,617[8] total live births in 2006.

[10]  The vast majority of IVF and FET treatments are done with the gametes (egg and sperm) of the intended parents and the embryo is gestated by the intended mother.  Donated gametes are used in a relatively small number of treatments.  Donated reproductive material could be the sperm, the egg, the embryo, the womb (surrogacy), or any or all of these.  Among IVF treatments where the intended mother gestated the pregnancy[9] (2,909 children), 92% of children (2,675) were created from both the egg and sperm of the intended parents, while 8% of the children (234) were from some or all donated gametes.[10]

[11]  Surrogacy with IVF or FET is rare.  Of the 3,530 births from IVF or FET treatment cycles started in 2005, only 38 children were born to surrogate mothers (1.1% of all IVF-FET births) compared with 3,492 children gestated by the woman intending to be the parent.  Of those 38 children involving surrogates, 19 were created using both the egg and the sperm from the intended parents.  The other 19 involved donation of either the egg or the sperm, but no surrogate births involved both donated eggs and sperm (i.e. no genetic or biological link to any intended parent.)

[12]  AI is thought to be done much more frequently than IVF because of its relative ease of use and lower cost.[11] A 1991 survey by the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies estimated that between 4 and 15 times more children are born as a result of AI than IVF.[12] Statistics on AI are difficult to collect because of the wide variety of medical practitioners (family doctors, obstetrician/gynecologists) who perform these treatments.  In terms of the use of donated sperm in AI procedures, there are no current Canadian estimates of the number or proportion of AI procedures that use donated sperm.  Presumably, the proportion of AI procedures with donated sperm would be significant, since opposite-sex couples with viable and compatible gametes would engage in intercourse for natural fertilization rather than assisted insemination, and lesbian couples and single women would require access to donated sperm. 

[13]    While this deals with information on Canadian AHR procedures, it likely undercounts the number of Canadian children born as a result of foreign AHR procedures, as Canadians may also use AHR clinices in the US, Mexico, Europe, India, Asia and Latin America; there is currently no ability to track these procedures.

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