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Documenting Birth: Parentage and Surrogacy in Ontario New Birth Registration Forms

Rachel Ariss, Associate Professor, Legal Studies, University of Ontario Institute of Technology

Published April 19, 2018, by Technologies of Justice.

Rachel Ariss presented a talk entitled Documenting Birth: Parentage and Surrogacy in Ontario New Birth Registration Forms, during a session on the state's role in the lives of children and families at the Technologies of Justice Conference, hosted January 26 to 27, 2018 at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology in Oshawa, Ontario.



Ariss explained the occurrence of gender issues in birth registration. She presented her research on cases containing parents of gestational surrogacy, highlighting assisted reproductive methods in law, and allowing children to be connected to their intended parents.

She pointed out how forms and legal definitions of motherhood versus fatherhood can be seen in terms of legal situations of birthrights. She also explained how historical contexts of motherhood were based on carrying a child, whereas fatherhood was traditionally based on social structures until DNA testing was brought into play. She illustrated how gender roles have historically been heavily specified and used in legal practices in terms of custody and parental rights.
Ariss described cases in which there has been post-surrogacy regret, especially in cases where there was little parental relationship with surrogates, and how intrafamilial connections can help improve the playing field of surrogacy in Canada. She pointed to the need for recognition as a family, especially in cases of non-heterosexual parents, and how in many cases forms were inducing biases and categorizations in terms of identity for those in a parental or surrogate role. She informed her audience of the changes to forms and law made in 2017 leading to the addition of gender neutrality and birth-giving, as well as the addition of surrogacy events to the registration forms. She noted that in the future she hopes to see recognition of the surrogate included on the birth record as a contributor but not a parent, allowing for a more whole holistic approach to birth registration forms.