New Quebec family bill raises troubling issues

A controversial Quebec bill that would amend the Civil Code and family law has been lauded for creating a legal framework for the use of surrogate mothers but has been slammed for scaling back trans rights and possibly opening the door to a divisive debate over the rights of a foetus.

Bill 2, the first reform of Quebec’s family law since the 1980s, is regarded as a disappointment, and in some cases a step back, by family law experts who had hoped long-awaited changes to the status of common law relationships would have been introduced. Instead, legislative changes around conjugality are expected to follow in the months to come.

“This can be viewed as a conservative bill,” noted Michel Tétrault, a family law expert who has written several books on Quebec’s family law regime. “This is a bill that changes little. But in some cases it clearly goes backwards. With trans rights it does not even maintain the status quo. Instead it is a clear step backwards. With assisted procreation, the way the bill is written is neither clear nor obvious, and represents kind of a step backwards because while there is a lack of regulations, there is a body of jurisprudence beginning to issue guidance. And as for giving juridical personality to a child considered as conceived but not yet born, the government is going to have to do some explaining.”

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This story was originally published in The Lawyer’s Daily.

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