Requested Individual Testimony on Canadian Bill C-13
"Assisted Human Reproduction Act"

Dianne N. Irving
copyright December 9, 2002
Reproduced with Permission

FROM: Prof. Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.
5108 Randall Lane
Bethesda, MD 20816-1917
FAX 301-229-8748
Former bench research biochemist (NIH/NCI)
Professor of Philosophy and Medical Ethics
Currently teaching in The School of Philosophy, The Catholic University of America
Washington, D.C., USA

TO: José Cadorette
Greffier, Comité permanent de la santé
Clerk, Standing Committee on Health
Direction des comités / Committees Directorate
Chambre des communes / House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

Click here for the Canadian government official link to Bill C-13: Bill C-13: An Act respecting assisted human reproduction (LS-434E)


("Assisted Human Reproduction Act")

Dear Mr. Cadorette:

Thank you once again for conveying to me the kind invitation of the Committee on Health, House of Commons, to present an individual testimony on the currently pending Bill C-13 ("Assisted Human Reproduction Act"; formerly Bill C-56). Although I was unable to travel to Ottawa on such short notice, I am very grateful to the Committee for allowing me to respond via written testimony. I especially appreciate the opportunity the Committee has afforded me to comment on some of the scientific definitions and elements of informed consent in the Bill that are of special concern to me.

As I mentioned to you before, in addition to this individual testimony, I am also sending to you three other documents which contain the extensive scientific and ethics references relating to my testimony:

I also appreciate and accept your kind offer to have this testimony, as well as these three documents I am sending by separate e-mail, translated into French and then distributed to all of the members of the Committee for their kind consideration.


Having reviewed this Bill thoroughly, it is clear to me that it is identical to the former Bill C-56. I will list here only the major concerns and problems I have with this Bill. More detailed comments on specific sections of the Bill can be found below. In short, my immediate concerns with Bill C-13, and several suggestions for changes to the Bill, are included in the following:

1. Rename the Bill: Because of the scientific and linguistic problems identified below (a partial list only), it is my recommendation that this Bill should not be passed, even with amendments. In fact, the Bill actually "restricts", "regulates", or "bans" very few research activities that have been found formally unacceptable by almost all international bodies that have deliberated on these same difficult issues. Indeed, this Bill would allow most of them to be performed. Even the title of this Bill should be changed to reflect more accurately the very broad and highly debatable issues which the Bill addresses. I would respectfully suggest that the title of the Bill should be changed to read: "Sexual and A-Sexual Human Reproduction and Research Act".

2. Use Only Internationally Approved Scientific Terms and Definitions: Scientific definitions used in this Bill that are relevant to, e.g., the field of human embryology, should be obtained only from academically credentialed human embryologists and/or established human embryology textbooks, and those terms themselves are professionally required be in concert with the terms approved of by the International Nomina Embryologica Committee. These are not scientific terms which are subjective, or that scientists or legislators may use arbitrarily. All scientific terms and definitions which I submit as corrections to many of the erroneous "scientific" terms used in this Bill are taken directly from current and accurate human embryology texts, all of which are 100% in concert with the International Nomina Embryologica Committee.

3. No bill is Better Than a Flawed Bill (Stare Decisis): I would respectfully submit that a word of caution is in order concerning the deliberate use of erroneous and politically correct "science" in legislation. Aside from the obvious concerns about scientific integrity and reliability of research data, it is well established that once such erroneous "science" becomes embedded into laws or regulations, it ceases to be "science" per se, but becomes simply "stare decisis" instead -- i.e., "legal precedent". This in turn corrupts the Courts themselves. The Courts have no legal duty to go back and correct erroneous "science" that has crept into the laws or regulations; indeed, they have a legal duty to apply such erroneous "science" to all future related cases that come before it. Thus I do not agree with certain sentiments that "a flawed bill is better than no bill at all", and I think such rationalizations are naive at best. One would think that it is indeed possible to pass reasonable and intellectually honest laws and regulations without politicizing and thereby jeopardizing the very health and safety of the members of society for generations to come.

4. Legally Valid Informed Consent Is Impossible: When erroneous science is used in legal definitions, definitions which in turn will be required to be used by all parties involved in these research activities, it is literally impossible for anyone to give legally valid informed consent. This is true especially for women who are donating their oocytes, embryos, or any other biological materials relevant to the Bill. The "informed consent" passages in this Bill refer only to procedural issues, and utterly fail to provide to those who are legally required to give their "informed consent" with the most basic, correct and accurate biological facts needed to be truly "informed" before "consenting". Indeed, many of the "scientific" embryological and genetic facts provided in this Bill are erroneous and very misleading. This precludes especially women from being both "informed", and therefore able to freely "consent" to the donation of their "biological materials". It also precludes legislators and other interested parties from partaking in meaningful and legitimate debates and deliberations pertaining to this Bill, thus preempting the democratic process per se.

5. Non-neutral "Ethics" is Presumed: This Bill also presumes a currently fashionable and very non-neutral, normative school of "ethics", i.e., "bioethics", as the basis for its ethical perspectives and for several of its definitions. There are many different kinds of ethics, and "bioethics" is only one of them. "Bioethics" was formally "born" in 1978 in the Belmont Report of the National Commission -- by mandate of the 1974 National Research Act (USA). This 11-member appointed National Commission identified the three basic ethical principles of "bioethics", i.e., autonomy, justice and beneficence -- and defined those terms in quite unusual ways, to say the least. Bioethics defines itself as normative, i.e., it takes a stand on what is right or wrong. That is, it is not neutral. The question that must then be addressed by this Committee is why any normative non-neutral brand of "ethics" should be used in any regulations or laws in any multicultural, pluralistic, democratic form of government, including that of Canada.

6. Morally Licit Means Must Be Used To Limit Evil: It is also claimed by some that, regardless of the scientific and other flaws in this Bill, at least it is an attempt to limit some of the "evil", and Evangelium vitae 79 is often cited as authority. However, Evangelium vitae 58-78 expressly states that not just any "means" may be used to limit "evil", but rather only those "means" that are in accord with and which do not violate the natural law.

Because of the erroneous science and linguistic loopholes in this Bill (as detailed below), this Bill would, by default, allow (1) the direct and intentional death and destruction of living innocent human beings, and (2) preclude all concerned from not only providing legally and ethically valid informed consent, but also preclude them from forming their consciences correctly on these issues. Both of these factors are direct violations of the natural law and thus render this Bill as a morally unacceptable "means" by which to try to limit "evil".

7. By Default, This Bill Would Allow Most Unethical Research Addressed: Particularly because of the use of contradictory "scientific" definitions, the use of erroneous "scientific" definitions (Section 3), the absence of necessary and relevant accurate scientific definitions, the application of those erroneous "scientific" definitions to both "Prohibited" (Section 5 - 9) and "Controlled" activities (Section 10 13), and the various linguistic loopholes which advance these problems and inadequacies, this Bill would in fact allow:

  1. In vitro fertilization (IVF)
  2. Almost all forms of human embryo research, including:
    1. IVF research
    2. Human embryonic stem cell research
    3. Both "therapeutic" and "reproductive" cloning of human beings by means of all cloning techniques, including the following cloning techniques:
      • Somatic cell nuclear transfer (SCNT)
      • Germ line cell nuclear transfer (GLCNT)
      • "Twinning", or "embryo multiplication" (e.g., blastomere separation and blastocyst splitting)
      • Mitochondrial transfer
      • Pronuclei transfer
      • Parthenogenesis
      • Formation of chimeras, mosaics, hybrids
      • Any "demethylation" research involving the production of a human embryo (properly defined)
      • "Cloning through the generations", i.e., the use of DNA-recombinant gene transfer with pronuclei, germ line cells, gametes, embryos, etc. (eugenics)
      • Prenatal "selection" (eugenics)

I would like to thank the Committee once again for allowing me to present a few of my observations and concerns about Bill C-13 for your kind consideration.

Respectfully submitted,

Prof. Dr. Dianne N. Irving, M.A., Ph.D.