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Melbourne Archbishop wants halt to 'IVF as lifestyle choice'

Melbourne's Archbishop Denis Hart has called for a halt to the extension of IVF of the grounds for IVF and associated technologies until there has been genuine community consultation - and the agreement of the whole Parliament.

Archbishop Hart suggested last week that an announcement that artificial reproductive technologies would now be made available to 'psychologically infertile women opened up a gap in the legislation 'big enough to drive a lorry through'.

Pointing out that such an extension does not have parliamentary approval, he suggested that the class of those regarded as 'psychologically infertile' could soon include all sorts of people who claimed they cannot have sex but want a child.

"Taxpayers do not want their scarce health dollars spent on IVF as a life-style choice," the Archbishop said.

"As we understand it, the proposed guidelines do not require expert evidence that the woman is 'psychologically infertile'," he continued. "The person making this assessment may well be a gynaecologist with no psychological or psychiatric qualifications. If a woman genuinely suffers from a psychosexual disorder then the disorder should be treated by an expert in that area, not by IVF."

He said the draft guidelines issued by the Infertility Treatment Authority pre-empt the forthcoming decision of the High Court of Australia regarding access of single and lesbian women to IVF.

"We hope the court will uphold the right of states to make laws restricting VP to married and de facto married couples," Archbishop Hart said. "That is what the Catholic Church has been asking the court to do, for the sake of the children of these technologies who have a right to a father."

Catholic Information Office (Melbourne)