Church concern as lesbians and singles win IVF therapy

The Church in Victoria appears likely to lobby against the implementation of recommendations by the state's Law Reform Commission that single women and lesbians should legally have access to IVF treatment without needing to prove they are medically infertile.

Catholic Health Australia CEO Francis Sullivan told The Age that the State Government should stick with the status quo.

"A child should at least start life knowing a father and a mother wherever possible," he said.

Current laws restrict "socially infertile" women - single women and lesbians - from IVF unless they are clinically infertile or have a genetic abnormality that can be transmitted to the child. Many women are forced to go to states where laws are less restrictive for treatment.

The State Government asked the commission to review the Infertility Treatment Act 1995, which banned "socially infertile" women from IVF. The review followed a case in the Federal Court in 2000 in which single woman Lisa Meldrum and her doctor, John McBain, challenged IVF laws and won.

A Bracks Government spokeswoman said the Government would consider the recommendations of the final report but it was premature to comment.

Opposition health spokesman David Davis said the interests of children were paramount in any decision to change the law.

The woman who inspired the review of IVF laws, Lisa Meldrum, welcomed the proposed changes. "I wish it happened a long time ago," she said. "If I had access 10 years ago I'd probably be pregnant by now."

A 2000 Federal Court decision ruling that Victoria's infertility laws breached federal sex discrimination laws was challenged in the High Court by the Commonwealth Attorney General and Australian Catholic Bishops Conference. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission with the Women's Electoral Lobby (WEL) intervened to defend the Sex Discrimination Act and support the Federal Court decision. The case was heard in September 2001.

Lesbians, singles win IVF therapy (The Age 12/5/05)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Catholic Health Australia
Infertility Treatment Act 1995
Submission to NHMRC Consultation into Human Cloning and Research Involving Embryos Bill 2002 (Australian Catholic Bishops Conference)

Call to reform IVF law (Herald-Sun 12/5/05)

12 May 2005