Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of September 30, 2002
Reproductive technology bill may return to House
By ART BABYCH
Canadian Catholic News
Long promised legislation on assisted human reproductive technologies died on the order paper for the second time in five years when the federal government prorogued Parliament this summer, raising concerns that Bill C-56 and others killed along with it may not be resurrected.
Senior officials believe most of the bills will return to the House of Commons and eventually be passed but there is little question that they will also be delayed.
The legislation can only be returned in the state it was before the previous session ended if all parties agree and if the minister-in-charge decides to reintroduce it.
Health Minister Anne McLellan introduced the bill on assisted human reproduction May 9. It would ban human cloning, surrogacy and the sale of human sperm and eggs but also allows for research on stem cells from human embryos, which Catholic organizations oppose.
"I would hope and expect that this would be one bill that will be brought back to where it was before," Jennifer Leddy, co-director of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family, said in a CCN interview.
"My understanding is that it doesn't necessarily have to die - it can be brought back to the very same stage as it was before Parliament was prorogued if there's a motion in Parliament and I think if they have a majority they can proceed with that."
The COLF and the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops were disappointed that the proposed bill would allow the use of embryos for stem cell research. "No amount of healing or good can justify the deliberate killing of a human being or using a human being as a means to an end," the CCCB said.
Leddy said the House of Commons standing committee on health had put "huge effort" into studying the proposed legislation in response to recommendations of the 1993 report of the Royal Commission on Reproductive Technologies. "I think all the parties on that committee are very committed to seeing something passed."
Between them, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops and COLF has appeared before the health committee three times over the last year alone, she pointed out. "That's just one example of the level of commitment and involvement by organizations and many different sectors."
The area of assisted reproductive technologies is developing rapidly "and now is really the moment to put some boundaries around it," said Leddy. "I would be very surprised if the government didn't bring this back and bring it back early."
Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson is to read the speech from the throne Sept. 30 to begin a new session of Parliament.