“Build and Break: the intersection of infertility, building a family using reproductive technology, relationship breakdown and related legal, emotional and ethical considerations.”
It is estimated that 1 in six Canadians experiences infertility. This number has doubled since the 1980’s. As a result, numerous Canadians are seeking third party assisted reproductive technology techniques to build their families. This includes egg/sperm donors and gestational carriers. The stress on the couple as a result of their fertility issues, and their pursuit of this assistance, can and does, lead to relationship breakdown: before, during or after a child is born. These types of situations raise unique legal, emotional, psychological and ethical issues. The related laws, research, suggested counselling techniques, and ethical mores have undergone considerable changes over the years. As professionals in the area of family law, we must consider the unique implications and ramifications of this type of relationship breakdown, and dove tail that with new family law legislation and relevant case law. A rich discussion will ensue with a family law lawyer whose practice includes fertility law, an accredited family mediator whose practice specialty is high conflict separation and custody/access assessments, and a bio-ethicist whose practice includes third party reproductive technology assistance.
Shirley Eve Levitan, BSc, LLB, has been practicing family law in Toronto since 1991. Her family law practice has included a fertility law component since 1996. Shirley has litigated, mediated and negotiated all manner of family law issues, and more recently, those issues have included a fertility context. Family law as it relates to fertility issues has morphed considerably over the years. There have been numerous changes to the Children’s Law Reform Act (Ontario) and various other Acts in Ontario. The related case law and the fact scenarios coming to our offices indicate that these types of cases are on the rise! Shirley will provide an interesting legal history as well as the current legal scheme of the intersection of family and fertility law. As in many of our family law cases, you really ‘cannot make this stuff up’!
Ilana Tamari, Hons. B.S.c., D.C.S. (Psych) Acc. FM OAFM, is an Accredited Family Mediator with OAFM, and has been in full time private practice since 2002, specializing in high conflict separations and divorce matters. Her main practice is focused primarily on mediations, arbitrations and custody/access assessments. Ilana has dealt with a number of high profile and high conflict cases where a couple separate shortly after fertility interventions or even at times during. Ilana has surmised based on social science research and her own experience that couples dealing with fertility matters are at a higher propensity to separate and divorce than one would expect in the general population. Ilana will provide an insightful and thoughtful presentation on the emotional/psychological issues that arise in this context, and her experience with how to best mediate them.
Dr. Kerry Bowman (PhD) has a Ph.D. in Bioethics, a fellowship in Cultural Psychiatry and a Masters degree in Social Work. Kerry is an Assistant Professor in Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto and a bioethicist at the University of Toronto Joint Centre for Bioethics. He is also the Clinical Ethicist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. Kerry has lectured and published widely on ethics in health care, mediation, end-of life care, consent and capacity, cultural diversity, and a range of other topics in health care and the helping professions. Kerry will present on the fascinating ethical considerations in building a family using third party reproductive technology assistance, and the impact that fertility issues may have on a couple’s relationship. “