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Canadians weigh in on surrogacy, IVF amid Pope’s call for global ban

Seventy-five per cent want Canada to cover the cost of in vitro fertilization
Pope Francis reads his message during the weekly general audience at the Vatican, Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2024. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

By Radha Agarwal

In the aftermath of Pope Francis’s call for a global surrogacy ban in early January, a new survey is highlighting how Canadians feel about various different reproductive options.

In a Research Co. poll released Wednesday (Jan. 24), roughly 74 per cent of 1,000 Canadians surveyed said they endorse surrogacy, which is when a female carries and delivers a baby for someone else.

On Jan. 8, during his annual foreign policy speech to ambassadors at the Vatican, Pope Francis called for a global ban on surrogacy.

“I consider despicable the practice of so-called surrogate motherhood, which represents a grave violation of the dignity of the woman and the child, based on the exploitation of situations of the mother’s material needs,” he said at the time.

While surrogacy is legal in Canada, it is illegal to pay – in cash, goods, property or services – or advertise to pay for a person to be a surrogate mother. In the United States, there is currently no federal law, and it is up to individual states to set the legal parameters.

The church maintains its stance against IVF, contraception and abortion, on the grounds that they violate natural law.

According to the survey, 75 per cent of adults want their provincial health care system to cover the cost of IVF, which is the process of fertilizing the egg and sperm in a test tube outside of the human body.

Sixty-nine per cent of those surveyed, who either are facing infertility or know someone else who is, said that cost of treatment is the main barrier to parenthood. Currently, Quebec and Ontario are the only two provinces who fully cover one single round of IVF. In New Brunswick, a one-time grant of $5,000 is available to eligible residents. In Newfoundland and Labrador, a $5,000 grant is available for a maximum of three cycles of treatment.

“Only 25 per cent of Canadians think in vitro fertilization should not be funded by the health care system,” said Mario Canseco, president of Research Co. “This includes 28 per cent of men, 35 per cent of Canadians aged 55 and over and 32 per cent of Conservative Party voters in the 2021 federal election.”