Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Bleeding (and more) for Canada

Peter Jaworski in USA today discusses Canadian repugnance for paying for blood or sperm.

If it weren’t for America's free-market ways, more Canadians would have trouble getting pregnant.

"Canada used to have a sufficient supply of domestic sperm donors. But in 2004, we passed the Assisted Human Reproduction Act, which made it illegal to compensate donors for their sperm. Shortly thereafter, the number of willing donors plummeted, and sperm donor clinics were shuttered. Now, there is basically just one sperm donor clinic in Canada, and 30-70 Canadian men who donate sperm. Since demand far outstrips supply, we turn to you. We import sperm from for-profit companies in the U.S., where compensating sperm donors is both legal and normal.
"Canada has never had enough domestic blood plasma for plasma-protein products, such as immune globulin. Our demand for those products, however, is increasing. Last year, we collected only enough blood plasma from unremunerated donors to manufacture 17% of the immune globulin demanded. The rest we imported from you, in exchange for $623 million, or $512 million U.S.
Reliance on your blood plasma looked like it might change a little bit when, in 2012, a company called Canadian Plasma Resources announced plans to open clinics in Ontario dedicated to collecting blood plasma. The trouble is that its business model included compensating donors. Almost immediately, groups such as the Canadian Union of Public Employees and the Canadian Health Coalition began to lobby the Ontario government to pass a law to stop CPR from opening clinics. Ontario obliged in 2014, passing the Safeguarding Health Care Integrity Act, which among other things made compensation illegal.
When CPR shifted attention to Alberta, so did the groups opposing them. Just this year, the Alberta government introduced the Voluntary Blood Donation Act, which would prohibit compensation.
British Columbia’s government is just now looking at options to ban it as well.
What persuaded these governments? The anti-compensation groups argued that blood plasma from compensated donors was less safe, that people should donate blood plasma for free rather than for money, and that there is something wrong with having a for-profit business model in health care.
The latter two concerns are strangely specific. They don’t seem to apply to you Americans. If they did, the groups would have lobbied to make importation of anything other than products made from unremunerated donors also illegal. But they didn’t.
Instead, they object to a Canadian for-profit company compensating Canadian blood plasma donors in Canada, but American for-profit companies compensating American donors in America does not appear to register on their moral radar. Like the importation of sperm from for-profit U.S. companies that compensate donors, it has all the appearance of moral NIMBYism. It’s fine if it happens in your backyard, and we’ll happily buy the products, but we object to it happening in our backyard."
And here, in Canada's National Post:

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