Reproductive Technologies Involve Common Good: CCCB and EFC Seek to Intervene in Supreme Court Case

Friday, March 13 2009

The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada (EFC) on 6 March 2009 asked the Supreme Court of Canada for permission to intervene in a Quebec challenge to the federal government’s power to regulate human reproductive technologies and related genetic research.

For the CCCB and EFC, the basic question is the common good and the public interest of all Canadians. The case, Attorney General of Canada v. Attorney General of Québec, is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on 24 April 2009. The CCCB and EFC hope to explain before the Court how existing federal legislation in this area is basic for the effective protection and promotion of human life and dignity as well as the dignity of human procreation.

The Quebec Court of Appeal had ruled in June 2008 that “only the individual safety of the participants in assisted reproduction and the children that result from it require protection.” These safety concerns, according to the Quebec ruling, can be regulated by the provinces as a matter of health care.

In their application to the Supreme Court, the CCCB and EFC insist that reproductive technologies raise profound moral and ethical concerns which extend beyond the individual parties involved and affect society as a whole. “The overarching considerations of respect for human individuality, dignity, and integrity,” the joint application states, “as well as respect for the dignity of human procreation, within the context of assisted human reproduction are of interest to all members of Canadian society….”
In its 1993 Final Report, the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies had stated: “Issues such as these are too important to our society, their fundamental social, moral, legal, and ethical implications too profound, to be left to be resolved by a fragmented and disjointed sector-by-sector or province-by-province approach. The protection of the public interest, the well-being and interests of women, the creation of children, and the formation of families are national issues that must be addressed at a national level.”

A key outcome to the Royal Commission report was the eventual decision by the Canadian Parliament in 2004 to pass the Assisted Human Reproduction Act. This federal legislation is now in question because of the ruling by the Quebec court.

Over the last 15 years, the EFC and the CCCB (either on its own or by means of the Catholic Organization for Life and Family) have been actively involved in matters relating to assisted human reproduction technology and research in Canada. Both made submissions to and appeared before the Standing Committee on Health in the development stages of the legislation now before the Supreme Court. Each also participated in past consultations and reviews on reproductive and genetic technologies, including the Canadian Institute for Health Research consultation on human stem cell research and the Royal Commission on New Reproductive Technologies.

If the Supreme Court permits the CCCB and EFC to intervene, they will be represented by Mr. William J. Sammon of Barnes, Sammon LLP.


For more information or an interview contact:

Mr. Gérald Baril
Communications Service
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops
(613) 241-9461 ext. 225

Ms. Gail Reid
Director, Communications
Evangelical Fellowship of Canada
905-479-5885, ext. 227
Cell: 647-227-3464