Victorian Reproductive Rights Update: Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill Passed
Posted by Clem Bastow on December 5, 2008
News from Victorian Parliament late yesterday that will no doubt have Victorian women feeling a mixture of happiness and trepidation, as the Assisted Reproductive Treatment bill was passed in the Upper, and then Lower, Houses without argument.
Primarily this means it will be a lot “easier” (I use the term, in the context of assisted reproduction, loosely and with a heavy sense of irony) for single women and lesbians to conceive via IVF and other treatments, and also for women to conceive using frozen sperm from their late partners, if prior consent was recorded. It also gives the parents of children born by surrogacy, and gay partners, legal parenting rights.
Some of the other highlights of the bill may be seen as a cause for debate in some quarters:
The legislation bans people with convictions for sexual or violent offences from accessing treatment and candidates must submit to police checks. They must also be free from child protection orders.
Doctors fear that delays in obtaining police checks will disadvantage some women, including cancer sufferers who may want to have their eggs harvested before starting treatment that could make them infertile.
Ms Pennicuik succeeded in pushing through another amendment that will require each baby born to a sperm or egg donor to be recorded on a central register.
Three government amendments were also passed. They require a woman to have given birth to a live child before agreeing to become a surrogate and that her own eggs are not used in the conception.
I could be being oversensitive about the first point (the police checks), but something about it feels inherently discriminatory. After all, there are plenty of people out there who blithely have multiple children, and who could well do to have a police check before doing so. But the great thing about Australia is that we don’t live in a police state, so they don’t have to submit to that process, whether we like it or not. Why should parents seeking IVF (etc) assistance need to? Are they second class citizens because they can’t have a child the “natural” way?
Surrogacy is an area I am interested in but not well-versed, so I throw it open to members of the Chorus who might be more informed than I am in that area – what do you think of the surrogacy amendments? And what do you think of the bill, full stop?