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Herald Sun – “Gay couples’ access to IVF delayed” by Georgie Pilcher

image GAY couples wanting access to IVF and donor sperm will have to wait for authorities to develop a way to make sure they are fit to be parents.

Laws allowing same-sex couples access to donor sperm and extra IVF services will be delayed at least five more months amid claims the Government doesn’t have the technology or resources to implement mandatory police checks in the legislation.

The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill, passed in December, gave lesbian and single women access to donor sperm and additional IVF services, but it also made it compulsory for all women and their partners, and any man donating sperm, to have police and child protection record searches.

The Act was to be proclaimed on July 1, but Melbourne IVF director Dr John McBain said the Government had stalled, unable to handle the hundreds of expected record checks.

"The Government is telling us it doesn’t have the resources in place to cope with the police checks," he said.

"The bureaucracy isn’t in place in the relevant department to screen the very large numbers of people who will be trying to get police checks."

Dr McBain said he was advising patients to have police checks in advance.

"There are many women whose ovaries are getting older and have to go interstate. Now they will have to wait until at least September or later," he said.

Shadow health spokeswoman Helen Shardey claims the Government has failed to develop an IT program to run the police checks.

"This bungling could lead to Victoria’s IVF program being closed down, robbing couples of the opportunity to commence treatment to start a family," she said.

"This failure could also put at risk the ability of women needing cancer treatment to have their eggs stored for future IVF treatment."

A spokesman for the Department of Human Services confirmed lesbians and gay couples would have to wait.

The Government wanted to get it right. "I don’t know the precise details of what the hold-up is, but we need to put all the mechanisms in place to support the Act," he said.

"We need to have all those systems and supporting regulations actually happening and that is the work that is going on currently."

He would not comment on the date of delivery, saying another couple of months was a short wait for gay couples who had already waited nearly a decade.

"The wait in the overall scheme of things between now and as long as the end of the year is not a huge amount of time. The focus has to be on getting it right," he said.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: IVF, Victoria

MCV – "2008: Year of Recognising Love" by Corey Irlam

December 23, 2008 Leave a comment

2008 was a historic year for the LGBTI community in Victoria. It was the year that the government recognised our love.

The government recognised our loving relationships through a state relationships register, a registration that will automatically be recognised by the 85 laws altered by the federal government to bring same-sex de facto relationships equal with heterosexuals’.

There is no more needing to prove interdependency through joint financial statements or photo albums: Victorians can now simply declare their relationship on the register and show their registration certificate as proof of their relationship.

Now, many will say this isn’t a major achievement, because it’s not equal to marriage laws. But relationship registers or civil unions are not designed to be a marriage substitute. They’re different and provide a choice of relationship recognition to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples.

We would call on the government to make changes soon to allow one partner to live outside the state. They should also automatically recognise a relationship created in the ACT, Tasmania or even the UK. But these small changes shouldn’t diminish the excitement many couples will feel knowing they have a way to formalise their relationship.

Perhaps the largest reforms in Victoria this year were that of equal parenting laws. Nationally, the government recognised both mummies as parents of their children.

In Victoria, changes to laws regulating artificial reproductive treatments were altered to allow single women and lesbian couples to have children through IVF. Laws also recognise two dads who enter into an altruistic surrogacy arrangement.

The government has yet to indicate what it will do regarding adoption laws, but hopefully they will take similar steps towards equality.

The changing of these laws will have long, lasting effects in Victoria. The equal treatment in law is often the first step to the equal treatment in society. So let’s celebrate our love, knowing that the government does, too. Maybe one day soon, society will as well.

Corey Irlam is spokesperson for the Australian Coalition for Equality.

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

Geelong Advertisers – "EDITORIAL: Rights of the child get legal backing"

December 8, 2008 Leave a comment

THERE will no doubt be howls of protest from the traditionalists and church groups but new legislation in Victoria has finally given some certainty to families of same-sex couples.

Ostensibly, the legislation has granted single women and lesbians increased access to IVF technology but the essence of the Bill is to provide rights for the child.

It recognises the non-biological mother and father of a surrogate child as the legal parents and recognises the female partner of a woman as the joint parent of a child.

The fact that both members of a lesbian couple have now full legal rights is a major step forward. Before the Bill, only the natural birth mother had legal rights. Therefore the other partner in the relationship had no rights in which to help the child should the natural mother die. The child could not be included on her passport, could not be the beneficiary of her will, and the partner could not be privy to vital medical information.

The changes have been a long time coming. The legislation rewrites 20-year-old laws which were in danger of becoming redundant in today’s society and brings Victoria into line with other states.

Two weeks ago Federal Parliament passed new laws giving gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts.

Under the new laws, same-sex couples now have access to the same services as opposite-sex couples living together in “de facto” relationships.

Gays and lesbians will be allowed to get family benefits under the state-run health care program and to leave their retirement benefits to their partners if they die. The changes also confer parental rights on gay and lesbian couples with children.

While the laws give same-sex partners many of the same rights and protections as married couples, they stop short of allowing gays and lesbians to wed under the Marriage Act, which was redrawn by the Howard Government to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Society has changed drastically in the past 20 years.

Public opinion is changing and the numbers of same sex marriages are on the rise. In Australia same sex marriages represent 0.6 per cent of all marriages. The number is far higher for relationships outside marriage.

In June last year, in a Galaxy poll of 1100 Australians aged 16 and over, 71 per cent agreed same-sex partners should have the same legal rights as de-facto heterosexual couples. Similarly, 57 per cent of respondents supported same-sex marriage. Those figures show a 20 per cent jump in support since 2004.

Last week’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill is not a harbinger of doom. It’s really a contemporary piece of legislation which accurately reflects the society in which we live.

[Link: Original Article]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

ABC News – "Mixed Response to Victoria’s IVF Law Changes" by Simon Lauder

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Lesbian couples and single women will soon be able to have babies using IVF treatment in Victoria, but some women and doctors say the new laws themselves are discriminatory because they include mandatory criminal background checks for prospective mothers.

There was celebration in the Upper House of Victoria’s Parliament as the votes were counted last night.

The Lower House gave the Government’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill the final tick of approval soon after.

It means Mikaela Olijnyk and Naomi Paton can now have the family they’ve planned together.

“One of us has medical infertility and the other doesn’t and we’re both wanting to carry a child with two children related through the same donor in a way that would allow our family to be related to each other,” Ms Olijnyk said.

“We fly to Perth on Wednesday to meet with a potential donor and start the negotiations,” Ms Paton said.

Under the old laws, single women and lesbians had to be clinically infertile to receive IVF treatment in Victoria and even then they weren’t allowed to use donor sperm from a clinic.

Natasha and Melissa had to go to great lengths to conceive their son Caius.

“We had to travel interstate every month to track ovulation and travel interstate every month in order to access donor sperm. We couldn’t have access to any medical assistance at all in Victoria because I’m not infertile,” Natasha said.

“I felt like we weren’t considered good enough to have children, that our family is not recognised and not valued because we’re not straight.”

Victoria’s Attorney-General Rob Hulls says the states laws are no longer in breach of the Federal Sex Discrimination Act.

“There are kids that are being born to all sorts of arrangements and they don’t have appropriate legal protections and so this legislation ensures that children – regardless of the arrangements under which they’ve been born – are protected,” he said.

“This legislation was always about kids and ensuring that children born into same sex families or as a result of surrogacy arrangements are not discriminated against.”

Background checks

There is a condition in the new laws which is proving controversial – mandatory criminal background checks. The medical director of Ballarat IVF, Dr Russell Dalton, says that will delay fertility treatment in some urgent cases.

“If we have to wait for the processing of police checks prior to undertaking fertility treatment for a person who for example has breast cancer at the age of 28 and is embarking upon invasive and aggressive chemotherapy, that person is going to be significantly disadvantaged. There’s no doubt about that,” Dr Dalton said.

Ms Paton doesn’t think she should have to pass a criminal check to get access to fertility treatment.

“We don’t need the police to tell us whether we’re suitable to be parents. I think it’s actually quite insulting,” she said.

Mr Hulls says the requirement is meant to protect children and it’s not discriminatory.

“We believe we have a responsibility to kids that are born of these arrangements and as a result we believe that police checks are appropriate,” Mr Hulls said.

“We don’t believe it will cause any inconvenience and it will ensure that any possible, unacceptable risk of harm at least can be addressed through police checks.”

Some women aren’t concerned about the background checks, including Vicky who has already become a mother through IVF.

“It can’t be any more invasive than the vaginal probes that you have to have every second day for scanning,” she said.

Based on a report by Simon Lauder for The World Today on December 5.

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

The West Australian – "New VIC Law Allow Gays to ‘Commission’ Surrogate Children" – by – AAP

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Gay men will be able to commission a baby via a surrogate mother under new Victorian laws that have angered the Christian lobby.

The landmark laws, passed in State Parliament late on Thursday, legalise surrogacy and give lesbians and single women access to fertility treatment, including IVF.

The Australian Christian Lobby has denounced the legislation as “social engineering” and says it will enable gay men to “order” a surrogate baby on demand.

“It steps outside the natural family, two men can’t (physically) have a baby,” lobby spokesman Rob Ward said.

“The wishes of homosexuals to have children should not be placed above the inalienable rights of children to start out in life with a mother and a father.”

The new laws eradicate the need for surrogate couples to travel interstate for IVF.

Previously, women had to be infertile to qualify for fertility treatment, ruling out surrogate mothers and most single and lesbian women.

The legislation also gives gay partners and parents of surrogate children legal parenting rights and allows women to conceive using the sperm of their dead partners.

Rainbow Families spokeswoman Felicity Marlowe said the notion that mums and dads made better parents was outdated and false.

“We would say that parenting and the ability to be a loving, nurturing and caring parent has no link to gender or sexuality, just as family structure doesn’t have a link to the (parenting) outcome,” she told AAP.

Ms Marlowe has three children with her partner Sarah Marlowe. Each was conceived with sperm from the same donor.

Both women were able to access IVF because they have fertility problems, otherwise they would have had to fly across the border for treatment, Felicity Marlowe said.

She said the new laws meant both women could now be recognised on their children’s birth certificates, giving them legal status as parents.

“One of the big advantages of this law change is the social recognition that comes along via law reform like this.

“What we would say is this law reform is just catching up with social attitudes that have already changed a lot…acknowledging our family makes a huge emotional and social difference to our children.”

Victorian Premier John Brumby said the legislation, which was subject to a conscience vote, was about respecting diversity of families and not passing judgment.

“It’s about respecting that there are different types of families in our society,” he said.

“It’s government in a sense getting out of the way of individuals and families – letting them make judgments without us passing judgment on what we think is right or wrong, and putting the interests of children at the forefront.”

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

Sydney Morning Herald – "Fertility Bill Shows Respect: Brumby" by AAP

December 5, 2008 Leave a comment

Landmark legislation giving lesbians and single women access to fertility treatment is about respecting diversity of families and not passing judgment, Victorian Premier John Brumby says.

Speaking a day after the upper house passed the controversial Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) bill, Mr Brumby said the laws were a positive step and praised MPs for conducting a respectful debate.

“It’s about respecting that there are different types of families in our society and that the interests of children are paramount and that’s what the legislation gives effect to,” Mr Brumby said on Friday.

“It’s government in a sense getting out of the way of individuals and families – letting them make judgments without us passing judgment on what we think is right or wrong, and putting the interests of children at the forefront.”

The Victorian upper house narrowly passed the bill 20-18 on the final sitting day of parliament for the year.

It gives single and lesbian women access to fertility treatment, including IVF, and grants gay partners and parents of surrogate children legal parenting rights.

The new laws also eradicate the need for surrogate couples to travel interstate to access reproductive treatment and allow women to conceive using the sperm of their dead partners, with prior consent.

Previously women had to be infertile to qualify for reproductive treatment, ruling surrogate mothers and most single and lesbian women out.

Those seeking fertility treatment must submit to controversial police checks and have a record free of convictions for sexual or violent offences and child protection orders.

Mr Brumby defended the clause, which was hotly contested, saying while it would be inconvenient for some people it was an appropriate safeguard.

“It’s an issue really about whether the support is provided to someone who potentially has previously shown that they’re not capable of bringing up children, or for example, have abused children.

“It’s just aiming to protect the public interest and, I think, if you had a position where a couple who had a long history of abusing children wanted to use these procedures you’d say, well is it appropriate that a couple in those circumstances should be supported by the state, supported by taxpayers in this way?

“I think the overwhelming majority of the public would say it’s not appropriate.”

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy

Herald Sun – "Gay and Single Women Win Right to Fertility Treatment" – by Nick Higginbottom

December 4, 2008 Leave a comment

GAY and single women can have babies with fertility treatment after controversial legislation passed State Parliament.

Upper House MPs voted 20 to 18 in favour of the amended legislation at 8.30pm. The result was greeted with uproarious applause and cheers from dozens of mothers with children in the public gallery.

The amendments to the legislation then passed the Lower House just after 11pm.

Divisive elements of the Bill – that force women accessing IVF treatment to undergo police checks – were retained, despite outspoken doctors and a former judge having condemned them.

The Government was forced to introduce amendments regarding surrogacy and identity matters yesterday to curry favour with some MPs who were wavering in their support for the Bill.

Parliamentary Secretary for Justice and Labor MP Brian Tee introduced three amendments and said the Bill was all about the rights of the child.

“That’s why it’s a great result,” he said.

Attorney-General Rob Hulls, who announced the legislation last December, said it was ground-breaking reform.

“It’s long overdue, it modernises our laws and it ends discrimination against people who haven’t been able to get access to ART (assisted reproductive technology),” he said.

Amendments to the Bill mean:

A WOMAN who uses IVF to become a surrogate mother cannot do so for her first child, nor can she use her own eggs.

THERE will be increased counselling, particularly if something goes wrong.

A CHILD will have “donor conceived” marked next to its name on the birth register, but not on its birth certificate

[Link: Original Article ]

Categories: IVF, surrogacy