Margaret Somerville is probably the most famous ethicist in Canada. She is a professor of both medicine and law at McGill University in Montreal, and she has a very special role in Canadian public life. In a testament to the fact that human nature has a need for a sure moral compass, for a definite right and wrong even when they no longer believe in God, Margaret Somerville is the unofficial priest of Canadian atheism. This is not a role that is only hers, because it is true of nearly every ethicist these days. But she is the most well known of these gurus of right and wrong, who tell people what is right when people no longer believe in an absolute right and wrong.
But I digress. Regardless of where Margaret Somerville gets her personal ethical convictions, she does seem to get it right most of the time.
The other day, Somerville wrote an excellent article in the Ottawa Citizen (she also wrote a similar article on MercatorNet). She discusses how in Canada, a growing coalition of disparate interests is trying to push for the further commercialization of human life in the "baby business", the reproductive industry. Currently Canada doesn't allow surrogates and gamete donors to be paid for their services. A lot of people who have something at stake are complaining about this and are gearing up to pressure for changes. Where would this lead us? Right down the ol' road to the depersonalization of the human person, basically: we are turning children, people and human body parts into objects for sale and ownership. Wombs for sale, eggs for sale, sperm for sale, embryos for sale, babies for sale (by traditional surrogates) - highest price based on highest quality, best quality to the highest bidder! People for sale, lives for sale. Buy a person, buy a life. Freedom for sale. That's called being "progressive."
These is a chance to do something about it right now. The Assisted Human Reproduction Office of Canada is holding a public consultation on this issue, and the deadline for comments is September 14, 2007. Anyone can comment. Please consider submitting your comments. You can read the consultation document and find out how to comment here (it's the first document at the top of the page).