Victorian upper house passes fertility bill
Progress Educational Trust11 December 2008
The Upper House of Victoria's Parliament has passed the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill by 20 votes to 18. The legislation will mean Victorian laws meet federal discrimination legislation by ensuring all women have equal access to fertility treatment. At present, lesbians and single parents have to travel to other states to receive fertility treatment. The Act will also give greater parental rights to gay couples and parents of surrogate children.
The vote comes after the Lower House approved the legislation last October by 47 votes to 34. The Bill needed to return briefly to the Lower House for amendments made during the debates to be approved. This was done just a few hours after the Bill was passed in the Lower House around 8.30pm. The amendments mean a woman is prevented from using IVF to become a surrogate if it is her first child or if she is using her own eggs. It also means that whether a child has been donor conceived must be noted on the birth register, although its birth certificate will not be marked. There will also be greater provision from counselling services than under the version of the legislation that was passed in the Lower House. Only one Labor MP voted against the Bill and one Liberal MP supported it.
Questions over the use of an individual's genetic information were referred to a parliamentary committee. The move angered some MPs who saw it as an indication the legislation did not adequately address all the necessary issues. 'What the Government is basically saying is we haven't got it right,' Liberal MP Richard Dalla-Riva told Parliament.
The reform comes after a four-year review conducted by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in to the current artificial reproductive technology (ART) laws in Victoria contained in the Infertility Treatment Act, which the new Act will repeal. 'This is about updating our laws, bringing them into the 21st century but ensuring that the interests of children born of these arrangements are absolutely paramount,' said the Attorney-General, Rob Hulls, during last October's debates.
Reproduced with permission from BioNews, an email and online sources of news, information and comment on assisted reproduction and genetics.