We need a 21st century framework for regulating assisted reproduction in Victoria

Tuesday, December 2. 2008

Since Victoria passed the first Australian statute regulating assisted reproductive technologies (ART) in 1984 the law in this state has been regarded as more prescriptive than in other jurisdictions. The current statute excludes many women from parenthood and breaches federal discrimination law. Recently, the Brumby Government introduced the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill 2008 into the Parliament to provide a new regulatory framework controlling the ART services. This initiative is well overdue as the law is inflexible and lags behind the fast moving developments in reproductive technology. Furthermore, the failure of the Victorian law to address the needs and challenges of a pluralistic society has led to a growth in reproductive tourism and those who don't qualify for treatment can evade the law by travelling interstate or overseas. Reproductive tourism maximises reproductive choice but only for those who can afford to travel to more liberal jurisdictions.

The Bill expands reproductive choice by dismantling discriminatory eligibility rules and introducing new altruistic surrogacy laws. However, in order to protect the interests of children born through ART, the Bill also limits reproductive choice with the introduction of a 'presumption against treatment' condition. These changes are likely to provoke vigorous public debate.

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