In Quebec, for as long as the Civil Code of Quebec has been in force and effect, contracts with respect to surrogacy were not a legally recognized form of procreation. This meant that although it was legally possible to use a third parties’ sperm to have a baby, it was illegal to use a third parties’ uterus. Therefore, the only couples that were able to have children were heterosexual couples and lesbian couples, and/or through adoption. This stipulation prevented two men, or any couple struggling with infertility from having a child through surrogacy. Therefore, the upcoming reform to the rules on surrogacy is a big step towards inclusiveness in growing a family in Quebec.
To ensure the safety and well-being of everyone involved in this type of parental project, the government has attached several conditions that need to be met in order to legally go through the process of surrogacy. Prior to starting the actual process of insemination, all parties living in Québec will be obligated to conclude a surrogacy agreement that will need to be notarized by a notary. If the surrogate mother is domiciled outside of Québec, she will have to abide by a different set of rules. Moreover, the intended parents and the surrogate mother will have to go through a mandatory course that will teach them about the ethical and psychosocial challenges facing their decision.
When creating this bill, a woman’s bodily autonomy was the legislator’s main concern. For that reason, the legislator made sure to stipulate that the woman acting as a surrogate, must be at least 21 years old, and would have the unilateral right to modify the notarized agreement. This means that if the surrogate mother chooses to have an abortion, or keep the baby, she would be able to do so without the approval or consent of the intended parents. However, the legislator also emphasized that the intended parents cannot change their mind once they sign the agreement.
This change in the law is a major evolution in the area of family law in Quebec since most other provinces in Canada already recognize the legal use of surrogacy. Therefore, this change is also an important step towards a more cohesive legal system in Canada.