Prisoner given green light to continue IVF treatment
Progress Educational Trust16 July 2010
An Australian Supreme Court has allowed a woman to continue with her self-funded IVF treatment, after she was given an 18-month jail term for fraud last November. The court heard that the woman, Ms Kimberley Castles, a mother-of-two had begun IVF treatment for 'age-based infertility' at a clinic in Melbourne before her imprisonment.
Her lawyer argued that she should be allowed to continue, because she will turn 46 in December, which is the cut-off point for treatment at the clinic. Her legal team argued this would be an infringement of her human rights because infertility is a recognised condition. Being unable to continue with her treatment would compromise her reproductive health, they said.
The prison where Ms Castles is being held was reluctant to grant permission for her treatment, because they were concerned that her IVF visits would be difficult to coordinate and other prisoners may become jealous. However, Justice Dr Karin Emerton has now given Ms Castles the right to apply for a permit each time she needs to leave the prison for treatment.
This particular case is seen as representing a unique set of circumstances, which may not have a bearing on future court cases. However, an Australian newspaper, The Age, reported that Ms Rachel Ball (a human rights lawyer) said 'This case reaffirms that people don't lose their human rights when they go to prison'.
This follows other similar cases that have been brought by people around the world, such as the British prisoner whose request for the right to have IVF treatment was turned down by the European Court for Human Rights (ECHR) in April 2006.
Back in Australia, Ms Castles was reported to be elated, and quoted as saying 'thank you, thank you' to her legal team.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.