Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) Bill referred for further scrutiny

Greens MP Sue Pennicuik today supported a motion to refer the ART Bill 2008 to the Legislation Committee of the state upper house. The referral occurred after the bill passed the second reading stage with a close vote of 20 to 18.

"The Legislation Committee is able to scrutinise bills and question the responsible minister and report back to the House, including recommending changes or amendments," said Ms Pennicuik.

Ms Pennicuik criticised the government for not allowing sufficient time for consultation and consideration of the ART bill. "While there has been years of public discussion around the Victorian Law Reform Commission inquiry into this issue, the bill itself has not been around very long. Not enough time has been allowed for proper consideration of the many aspects of the bill," she said.

"The government should release these significant social bills as exposure drafts and undertake consultations with the community and other parliamentarians in order to achieve as much support as possible for them. Instead it has tried to rush this through in a couple of weeks at the end of the year.

"The Greens are totally supportive of the removal of any discrimination regarding access to assisted reproductive technology that is in this bill, but we have drafted a number of amendments including the removal of police checks* and the inclusion of access for all donor-conceived persons to their biological origins.** All donor-conceived persons should be able to access information about their biological origins.

"Other areas of concern are the number of families that can be created with gametes from a single donor - in NSW it is five, in this bill, it is ten - and the regulation of surrogacy arrangements also requires careful scrutiny and consideration," she said.

The ART bill will return to the upper house in the last sitting week of the year.

Further information: Sue Pennicuik   0409 055 875

* Victoria is the only jurisdiction that includes police checks in its legislation, apart from South Australia where the law requires people to sign statutory declarations regarding any convictions for sex offences, violence or child protection orders.

**At present, donor-conceived persons born after 1997 have access to information about their genetic identity, those born between 1988 and 1997 can access the information if the donor agrees and those born before 1988 cannot access the information at all.  


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