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High Court begins hearing Church IVF challenge

The High Court has begun hearing the Catholic Church's challenge to a Federal Court decision to allow a single Victorian woman to access IVF services.

Last year the Federal Court ruled Lisa Meldrum was entitled to use IVF, as Victorian laws stopping her because of her marital status were incompatible with the federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA).

The High Court has been hearing argument from David Jackson, QC, for the Catholic Church and the federal Attorney-General on why the federal government should now be entitled to disturb a decision that both Ms Meldrum and the Victorian government were happy with. He and the seven judges spent the morning debating the complex relationship between the Catholic Church and federal government for this case.

Attorney-General Daryl Williams last month joined with the Catholic Church to give it standing to argue that the SDA does not apply to fertility treatment.

While Justice Mary Gaudron said it was odd that the commonwealth was now getting involved when it had had a right to intervene in the original Federal Court case, Mr Jackson said it was quite common for attorneys-general not to intervene in a lower court.