ART Amendment Bill eases restrictions for lesbian families
The Assisted Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill passed the Lower House yesterday. Amongst the amendments, the Bill redefined the 5-woman limit to a 5-family limit for access to sperm from a single donor in order to remove the impact on lesbian families.
Previously both women in a lesbian relationship would be counted as separate entities in regards to access to gamete provisions. Legislation currently says a donor can only provide sperm to 5 women. But with the introduction of the new legislation, lesbian couples will now be counted as one family unit in the instance that both women choose to go through the ART process and want their children to share bloodlines and thus have the same donor.
Sydney Independent Alex Greenwich spoke of the impact the 5-limit rule had on lesbian families.
"I have been contacted by two lesbian couples whose families have been impacted by the five women limit. In both situations, couples have commenced families and then not been able to use the same donor with the second partner because he has or may have reached the five women limit. It is important to the women in these families that their children share a biological link but they were excluded from this option even though, as a family with the same two parents, there is no risk of their children not knowing their biological link and unknowingly entering into a romantic relationship. In each case the couple reported significant emotional distress. The five women limit is discriminatory and unnecessary in the case of families headed by lesbian couples."
Commenting on the amendment, member for Summer Hill Jo Haylen said the bill lessened the disproportionate impact existing regulations had on same-sex families and infertile men.
"The current regulations are a good example, I think, of how we can make laws in this place that are unknowingly discriminatory and I welcome the Health Minister’s commitment to getting this done and making this change."
The primary purpose of the amendment was in regards to the management of the information of individuals who donated sperm or ova prior to 1 January 2010.
Currently ART providers are responsible for maintaining donor records and there is no central repository for records. The new bill aims to allow NSW people conceived via donor gametes to receive de-identified information.
Speaking to the bill, Greenwich said the bill provided new provisions for individuals conceived through donor gametes to gain access to information about their donor parent – though it stopped short of the rights granted in Victoria which also provides a centralised database of donor information.
“The bill ensures these individuals can access de-identified information about their donor parent and provides a framework to do that through application either to the ART provider or to the Secretary of the Ministry of Health. There is an obligation on the ART provider to provide this information,” Greenwich said.
“I understand those conceived through donated gametes prior to 2010 are disappointed that the Government will continue to let ART providers manage records. They want a government-managed centralised electronic database because they do not trust ART providers, some of which have destroyed records, denying them access to their ancestry and genetic history."Greenwich said.
"While the bill creates a new offence for the destruction of records, which is strongly supported, I understand why those wanting to access records do not trust ART providers and agree that the Government should manage all past records,” Greenwich said.