Letter from the CCCB to the Minister of Health, Allan Rock

Wednesday, July 16 1997

The Honourable Allan Rock
Minister of Health
Brooke Claxton Building
Postal Locator 0916A
Ottawa, ON
K1A 0K9

Dear Mr. Rock:

On behalf of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, I would like to wish you well as you assume your duties as Minister of Health. Your new Ministry is vast; the issues complex and significant. You are responsible for questions that are not only vital to Canadians in their day to day lives but to the underlying values of our society.

One of the major questions left unresolved before the election was Bill C-47, An Act respecting human reproductive technologies and commercial transactions relating to human reproduction. We, along with many others, were disappointed that this Bill was not dealt with before the election, given that a Royal Commission studied the issues for four years and the Government studied the Royal Commission’s report for three years before introducing the Bill more than one year ago.

The CCCB prepared a brief, dated October 15, 1996, and was very pleased to be invited to participate in the hearings held by the House of Commons Sub-Committee studying the Bill. While we commended the Government for this important initiative, and supported the prohibition of the thirteen uses of reproductive and genetic technologies listed in the Bill, we also requested that it be amended to include refinements and additions so that the Bill will clearly prohibit interventions that may affect the integrity or dignity of unborn human life at any stage of development.

The Preamble to Bill C-47 recognized that these are matters of deep concern to Canadians because they deal with the origins of human life and respect for human dignity. For your convenience the Preamble is set out below:

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada is gravely concerned about the significant threat to human dignity, the risks to human health and safety, both known and unknown, and other serious social and ethical issues posed by certain reproductive and genetic technologies;

WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada acknowledges the health and ethical dangers inherent in the commercialization of human reproduction, including the sale of reproductive materials, the trade in reproductive capacities of women and the exploitation of women and children for commercial ends;

AND WHEREAS the Parliament of Canada recognizes the need for measures to protect and promote the best interests of children affected by such technologies and transactions….

The appearance of the cloned sheep, Dolly, showed us very dramatically what the future could hold for human reproduction. Please act quickly to ensure that practices that threaten human dignity and that Canadians clearly do not want are prohibited. We ask you to reintroduce “Bill C-47” as soon as Parliament resumes and to include in it the amendments proposed in our brief, a copy of which is enclosed.

We hope that the new reproductive and genetic technologies will be one of your Ministry’s priorities so that all of the consultation, work and reflection done by the Royal Commission, your officials and people from across the country will finally bear some results. We look forward to your early reply.


+ Francis J. Spence
Archbishop of Kingston
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops