Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Victoria: major changes to IVF laws

The Victorian Government has put a Bill before the Parliament proposing major changes to the way that ART and IVF services are delivered. The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 proposes a new regime for the regulation of IVF services.

Some significant features:
  • surrogate arrangements will now be able to occur in Victoria. They will not be limited to married couples. People seeking surrogate arrangements could be single (male or female), married or de facto, or same sex partners.
  • commercial surrogacy in Victoria could occur. However, the surrogate mother can only receive her expenses reimbursed and cannot be allowed to profit. There would also be a ban on advertising for surrogates. In reality, these limitations should prevent commercial surrogacy.
  • an egg or sperm from a dead person can be used to fertilise the dead person's partner (so is not limited to married couples, and might include lesbian but not gay couples) in limited cases.
  • sets up the Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority.
  • changes presumptions about children for women who are single or have female partners- "the man who produced the semen used in the procedure is presumed, for all purposes, not to be the father of any child born as a result of the pregnancy whether or not the man is known to the woman or her female partner" and the female partner is presumed to be a parent. However, if a donor egg was used, the donor is presumed not to be the mother of the child born as a result of the pregnancy. Therefore if the female partner were to be the donor, she would be a parent but not the mother.

The Bill is subject to a conscience vote, so it remains to be seen if it passes both Houses.

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