Alison Motluk
Toronto, Canada

I am a freelance journalist working in print, audio, and online.

I publish HeyReprotech, a newsletter about the ripples caused by assisted reproduction. I also currently publish Ukraine Surrogacy Dispatches, a temporary newsletter about surrogacy during wartime.

My work has appeared in The Economist, New Scientist, The Globe and Mail, Hazlitt, The Walrus, Toronto Life, Nature, O The Oprah Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and on CBC radio's The Current, Quirks and Quarks, The Sunday Edition, Ideas, and elsewhere.

I've won six National Magazine Awards, two awards for investigative reporting from the Canadian Association of Journalists, and an RTDNA award.

My interest in assisted reproduction dates back more than 15 years, to when I first learned about donor offspring who wanted to meet family members connected through their sperm donors. One of my early stories on that subject was about a 15-year-old boy who was the first in the world to track down his anonymous sperm donor using only the internet and his own spit.

I remain deeply interested in the stories of donor offspring. These are people breaking entirely new social ground. My two-part documentary, “Brave New Family,” which aired on CBC Radio’s IDEAS in 2007, was about sperm donor offspring — what it’s like to be one, to be the parent of one and to search for (and sometimes find) members of your donor tribe. Over the years, I have also written about donor grandparenthood, extended families created through sperm donation, and what people do when they stumble upon an anonymous donor’s real identity.

I have also been interested in legal and policy issues surrounding reproductive technology. In 2004, for instance, the Canadian government passed a law that, among other things, prohibited payment for eggs, sperm, embryos and surrogacy. While the intent was well-meaning — to prevent exploitation, to avoid the commercialization of human life — the consequences were disastrous. Doctors, lawyers, would-be parents and donors were for 15 years effectively operating in a legal grey space. I chronicle some of that in “The Human Egg Trade”  and “Anatomy of a Surrogacy.” Regulations finally came into force in 2020.

I am very interested in the medical risks to egg donors, which remain largely unstudied. I wrote "Is Egg Donation Dangerous?" and produced the radio documentary "Wanted: Egg donor in good health" on the topic. I also broke the story of the egg donor who, after having 45 eggs removed from her ovaries in Toronto, flew home to Florida and had a stroke.

I’m drawn to reproductive technology for the same reason I lend it such a critical eye: because it is such a fast-moving and exciting area of science. I greeted the claim of ovarian stem cells with excitement even as I watched their premature commercialization with care.

I have no financial or personal ties to the fertility industry. I am female, cisgender, heterosexual, married and have two children conceived without medical assistance. I am pro-choice and pro-contraception. I support gay marriage and gay parenthood. I endorse medical intervention in reproduction where needed. I know that individuals can make their own best choices. I believe that, in general, impartial regulation works better than industry self-regulation. I also believe that transparency is almost always better than secrecy.

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