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News, Victoria

Assisted reproductive treatment reforms for Vic to reduce discrimination

Community advocates say that the Victorian Government’s introduction of a bill to reform assisted reproductive treatment will help reduce discrimination against people in same-sex relationships. 

The Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Bill 2021 will allow artificial insemination to be carried out by nurses and other properly trained health professionals under clinical supervision. 

It will amend discriminatory language to make clear that a person who provides eggs or sperm for use by their partner is identified as a partner, not a donor. 

The bill will also enable a person whose partner has died to use their eggs, sperm, or embryos in accordance with their deceased partner’s wishes. 

“This reform, and the Government’s plans to introduce a public fertility service and public sperm and egg bank, will ensure more Victorians have better access to low-cost assisted reproductive treatments,” said Co-Convenor of the Victorian Pride Lobby, Nevena Spirovska. 

“Better recognising partners and their wishes will also reduce discrimination against people who are or have been in same-sex relationships.” 

The bill will amend surrogacy provisions to allow reimbursement of costs incurred by a surrogate’s partner, protect the right of surrogates to manage their own pregnancy, and replace references to ‘commissioning parents’ with ‘intending parents’. 

“Reforms to surrogacy provisions will more sensitively recognise and protect people who enter into a surrogacy arrangement,” said Spirovska. 

Felicity Marlowe, Executive Director of Rainbow Families Victoria, said the reforms were welcome and had been a long time in the making. 

“Congratulations to every rainbow family and LGBTIQ+ community member who shared their stories and advocated for change,” said Marlowe. 

However, the Victorian Pride Lobby said that further reform is still needed. 

“The Government must also remove the outdated requirement for same-sex couples to prove that they are unlikely to become pregnant before accessing assisted reproductive treatment, end the ban on advertising for donors or altruistic surrogacy arrangements, and allow people to store their eggs, sperms, or embryos for any time agreed to between them and their assisted reproductive treatment provider,” said Spirovska. 

“The bill’s mandatory counselling requirements for women and their partners undergoing assisted reproductive treatment should be made optional.

“There is also a need for the Government to investigate the existing criminalisation of commercial surrogacy and the effect that this is having on women and LGBTIQA+ people.”

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