Motherhood – It Isn’t Simple Anymore

Posted on October 26th, 2011 by Centennial Law in Defining Parenthood, Family Law

You’ve probably heard the expression "motherhood and apple pie."  It’s an American expression.  In a democratic country, one might say, for example, “every adult should be entitled to vote – it’s like motherhood and apple pie.”  In other words, it’s an obvious truth.


Apparently, however, motherhood isn’t so obvious anymore – at least not in Canada.  At least not for two year old Sarah of Saskatchewan.  Sarah’s embryo was created in a test tube from father John’s sperm and the egg of an anonymous donor.  As one might expect given his name, John’s partner Bill has no womb and so the embryo was carried to birth by Mary, a surrogate mother.


At this stage in her life, Sarah has lived only with John and Bill.  A little while after her birth, John and Bill applied to the Court seeking a declaration that Mary was not Sarah’s mother.  The judge decided (WJQM v AMA, 2011 SKQB 317) that Mary was not Sarah’s biological mother and further stated that:


“neither [John and Bill] nor Mary ever intended that Mary would assume any parental rights or obligations with respect to Sarah.  As such, a declaration that Mary is not Sarah’s mother is warranted.”


Whether you agree with the decision or not, WJQM v AMA is undoubtedly interesting.  From a lawyer’s perspective, however, the judge’s suggestion that the intentions of John, Bill and Mary are somehow relevant to the motherhood (we had to fit that in!) issue is also fascinating – because it’s a line which many family law lawyers have heard before.  Mind you, lawyers usually hear it expressed a bit differently as in:  “I didn’t intend to father a child - but she told me she was on birth control.”


Food for thought!  Don’t let anyone tell you that the law is boring.


Article written by Centennial Law Corp. (Douglas E. Dent)

The specific facts of any real life situation can have many unforeseen legal implications. As a result, please note that the general information found in the above article should not be treated as legal advice.