If you are struggling with fertility issues, are a single parent, or a same gender couple, it may be time to consider using an egg, sperm, or embryo donor. You will be happy to know that the use of assisted reproductive technologies (ARTs) is legal in Canada. Before you start this journey however, it is important that you understand the legalities surrounding using a donor in Ontario. The laws surrounding egg, sperm, and embryo donation are quite complex, but can be understood with the help of a trained legal professional.

Regulated under the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, a complex and confusing piece of legislation, fertility and surrogacy law in Canada can be a challenge for hopeful parents to navigate. These strict laws regulate the use of ARTs in Canada, and it is important that anyone relying on third party reproduction speak to a fertility lawyer before any big decisions are made.

Egg & Sperm Donation

Egg and sperm donation refers to when an individual donates their eggs or sperm to an individual or couple who require a donor for reproductive purposes. A prospective egg donor should consult a legal professional, as well as a medical professional, to discuss the risks involved in egg donation and determine if it is safe to proceed. While it is legal to use an egg or sperm donor in Canada, it is illegal to pay them. Donors can only be reimbursed for expenses related to the donation. Egg donation is an invasive, often risky procedure, and it is important that it is not done for financial gains. Paying an egg or sperm donor in Canada is a criminal offence, and carries severe penalties including fines and even jail time.

Embryo Donation

It may happen that people have embryos left over when they are finished building their families. In this scenario, families can dispose of the embryos, donate them to scientific research, store them, or donate them to a family in need. Similar to egg and sperm donation, it is illegal to pay an embryo donor for the embryo, and doing so carries severe criminal penalties.

Whether you are considering egg, sperm, or embryo donation, those considering using a donor can proceed one of two ways: using a known or unknown donor. Each of these options has its risks and necessitates a visit to a legal professional, and drafting a donor agreement is crucial—especially when you are using a known donor. While you may trust your friend or family member to be reasonable during the donation process, things can get complicated and emotional where children are involved. A donor agreement is the best way to establish parentage for the child, and outline each party’s rights, obligations, intentions, and expectations as they enter into a donor agreement.

The donor agreement should be signed before the egg/sperm/embryo is used for reproductive purposes, and failure to do this could trigger the commencement of court proceedings to establish the legal parentage of the child.

If you are considering using an egg, sperm, or embryo donor, or have questions regarding becoming a donor, please contact Lianna Sanelli at Brace Law. A knowledgeable fertility and surrogacy law lawyer, Lianna can guide you through the process, answer questions, and draft legal documents. Becoming a parent is a huge step in your life, and the legal process that goes along with it should be taken equally seriously. Ensure that you are covered by consulting a lawyer in this exciting and lifechanging time.

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