Fertilized eggs donation is becoming a more current practice: what about the legality of such a method?

We often hear about sperm or eggs donation in Quebec. But what about fertilized eggs donation? This practice isn’t well-known in Canada even though it is widely spread in the United States.  It is about the donation of eggs that have already been fertilized by a sperm cell. Why give fertilized eggs? Several reasons can lead individuals to donate, such as help their family or friends who have encountered fertility problems. Not everyone is gifted with good quality eggs or sperm cells. Fertilized eggs donation could help several people or couples fulfill their project to expand their family more easily.

What about the legal rights of each individual implicated in the project? In the present text, we will assume that the child bearer will be the mother of the child after the birth, as planned in the parental project, in opposition to a case scenario where the mother bears a child for another person.

When the child bearer gives birth to a child, her name is automatically written on the birth certificate, whomever the fertilized egg may have belonged to in the first place. Indeed, the contribution of genetic material to the parental project of another cannot be the basis for any bond of filiation between the contributor and the child consequently born (article 538.2 al.1 C.c.Q.) Moreover, no one may contest the filiation of a child solely on the grounds of the child being born of a parental project involving assisted procreation (article 539 al.1 C.c.Q.). Fertilized eggs donators can’t claim any filiation bond to the newborn child (except in certain particular cases) and fertilized eggs receivers can’t ask any child support amount from the donators.

Careful! Surrogate mother contracts are illegal in Québec. Indeed, any agreement whereby a woman undertakes to procreate or carry a child for another person is absolutely null (article 541 C.c.Q.). It is possible for a woman to carry a child for another couple without any remuneration with all the risks attached to it: once the woman has given birth to the child, she must consent to give him in adoption to the couple so that the parental project may be fulfilled. It is important to keep in mind that the Civil Code of Québec states at article 538.1 that the filiation of a child born of assisted procreation, as in the case of filiation by blood, is established by the act of birth. Problems could be encountered, as in the case where the child bearer mother changes her mind and decides to keep the child for example.

The text you just read is a brief summary of the basic notions regarding assisted human reproduction. There are some exceptions to the principles exposed in the present paper and that is exactly why it is recommended seeking the advice of a jurist before even thinking about moving forward with such an important project.

Some specialists may require a written consent before proceeding to the implantation of fertilized eggs given by individuals who are neither going to be the father nor the mother of the child. It would be a pleasure for us to help you with such a particular matter.

Text originally written in French by Me Roxane Trudel-Pigeon / Translated by Virginie Dalpé law intern