Quebec Justice Minister Simon Jolin-Barrette has introduced a bill that would create a legal framework for surrogate mothers.
While people are allowed to have someone else carry a baby for them — as long as the surrogate mother isn't paid — any contracts signed between the surrogate mother and the parents who intend to raise the child aren't legally binding under Quebec's civil code.
That would change with a bill tabled Thursday, which includes a broader family law reform.
Under the new law, a notarized surrogacy agreement would have to be in place before the pregnancy begins. It would also require the birth mother to consent to give up her parental link with the child after the child is born.
Only the surrogate mother would be able to change her mind at any point in the process. Under the proposed legislation, she could, for example, abort the pregnancy or decide to keep the baby, without risk of being sued by the intended parents.
The intended parents would also have responsibilities towards the child, including the obligation to support it from the moment they sign the surrogacy agreement.
"That's really important, because currently, there are children who find themselves without legal protection," Jolin-Barrette told reporters at a press conference, giving the example of intended parents who have a conflict with the surrogate mother and no longer want anything to do with the child.
"At the moment, the child isn't protected," he said. "That's why it's necessary to establish a clear framework, like we're doing, to protect the child and to protect the surrogate mother."
The surrogate mother would also have to be at least 21 years old and while she could not be paid, she could be compensated for the loss of revenue and certain costs could be reimbursed.
The bill would also give those whose birth involved a third party, as well as those who were adopted, the right to know about their origins.
Those who were born through a relationship involving a third party would have the right to information, in certain circumstances, about their parent, while those who were adopted would have the right to obtain their original birth certificate and judgments related to their adoption.
They would also have the right to learn the names of their grandparents and any siblings.
The family law reform — known as Bill 2 — is the first reform of Quebec’s family law since the 1980s.
The bill would also allow people to change the gender on their birth certificate, if certain conditions are met.
Indigenous people who were placed in a residential school and had their name changed would be able to return to a traditional name for free, as would their descendants.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 21, 2021.
Caroline Plante, The Canadian Press