Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Submissions Snapshot

The Commission received 234 submissions responding to its Assisted Reproductive Technology & Adoption: Consultation Paper, published in January 2004.

Below are a selection of comments made in these submissions, arranged under three key issues.

Eligibility for accessing ART

‘The current eligibility criteria are inequitable. This is as a result of trying to fit a social requirement within a medical framework. As a result there are arbitrary lines in an ad hoc system based on medical specialists making a medical diagnosis.’

‘Any woman who requires access to ART should be able to do so. This would ensure the same quality of treatment for all women, and the same information available for children.’

‘General principles behind laws should be non-discriminatory and in line with what is actually happening in the community. There should be no expectation that infertile people conform to a particular family type. Approaches which minimise harm should be supported.’

‘People accessing ART should be assessed as clinically infertile because of limited resources. Single or lesbian women who are not infertile but who want to access ART should be required to pay the full cost of the service, and if seeking to self-inseminate should have to provide their own sperm. Guidelines should be in place and each case should be assessed individually. People over 55 should not be able to access treatment.’

‘Single and lesbian women who wish to access treatment are not infertile. It is ridiculous to try to define them as infertile. Community discussion and separate legislation is required to deal with women who wish to access ART but are not infertile.’

‘I argue that doctors, scientists and others who help to bring about a child, like gamete donors, should ensure that it is not reasonably foreseeable that this child will be harmed and that this requires some determination of the intended parent(s) ability to discharge parental obligations. In short my account entails that ‘ability to parent’ is a required eligibility criteria.’

‘The legislative criteria for access to ART and adoption in Victoria excludes and treats differently same-sex couples and single women without any ‘reasonable and objective’ basis. Whilst some members of the community have particular views of what a family is, and do not approve of either single-parent families, or same-sex-couple families, the nature of a pluralistic and diverse democratic society allows us all to have competing views without any one being able to oppress those in the minority.’

‘Children should only be conceived through marital relations between husband and wife. Traditional families need to be maintained.  Children need a mother and a father, and have the right to know and grow up with their biological parents. Creating children so that they are fatherless is unacceptable. The research shows that fatherless children are at a significant disadvantage.’

Parental identity

‘There needs to be consistency and continuity in the approach across the board in relation to creation of different families, definition of parents, record keeping.

There needs to be a clear definition of what information is recorded and why. There needs to be acknowledgement of all parties to a child’s conception. BDM could keep records of all parties, accessible to the child, with a less detailed standard certificate for requirements around proof of identity.’

‘Children should have the right to donor information before they turn 18. A child should have the right to know their genetic origins and personal history during minority, subject to his/her best interests. A child’s social family should be charged with the responsibility of managing a possible need for the child’s relationship with the donor father. Counselling should be undergone by all parties, and consent from the donor, prior to conception.’

‘It would be appropriate to provide that where a couple is living together on a genuine domestic basis the partner is the parent of a child born to the other. This would closely parallel the law as it applies to heterosexual couples. The birth mother’s partner would appear on the birth certificate.’

‘Children need parents, stable relationships, a sense of security and community, education, food and shelter and social connectedness. Children of ART have a committee of parents, and are routinely denied stable and certain relationships with all of their parents.’

‘Private parenting agreements between parties should be recognised at law to indicate the parties’ intentions. The parties intended to be parents should be able to formally adopt the child.  Details of each biological parent should be kept on a register available to be accessed by the child when s/he turns 18.’

‘Same-sex couples should be able to adopt children provided that the court determines that an adoption order is in the best interests of the child. Inter-country adoption should only proceed where full regard is had of the relinquishing parents’ wishes and the policies and attitudes of the country of origin.’

‘I think that a lack of language and laws supporting a child’s familial situation is detrimental for the child’s sense of belonging within that family. If my living situation had have been named “a family”, and my two female caregivers “parents” within legal and social discourses, I would have felt more secure and like less of an outcast. I longed for my family to be legitimated in this way for my entire childhood and adolescence, and now I am beginning a new phase as potential parent, I long for my new family to be legitimated.’

Surrogacy and Adoption

‘[T]he practice of surrogacy reduces human life to become a mere commodity where the inherent right of the child to be born into a family with knowledge of his/her parents is taken away.  Surrogacy thus should be rejected on the grounds of its potential to exploit women, violate the marital act and deconstruct the basic social unit of society—the family.’

‘Donor conception should be recognised as an adoption because of the profound similarities. The process should be taken away from the medical profession and given to a government bureaucracy to reflect its social dimensions. The selection process should be rigorous. There should be more extensive and ongoing education and counselling around the needs of a donor conceived child. There should be one donor per family. The recipients should meet the donor prior to conception and the child should have contact with the donor.’

‘We believe surrogacy should only be offered to those who clinically require it under strict supervision with in that states law. And that the laws should be amended so that surrogacy is available in all states to clinically infertile persons under the strict supervision of an appropriate supervisory body.’

‘Legally permitting surrogacy would undermine the importance of natural motherhood which includes the genetic dimension, gestation and the rearing of the child. The true mother is the one who gives birth to the child. The mother’s role should not be reduced to gestation alone as though she were just an incubator, divorced from on-going maternal relationships with her child.’

‘Adoption was initially introduced to find a suitable home (family) for a child in exceptional circumstances, however, the discussions raised through the consultation paper present adoption as being the option for people who would like a child.  The needs of the child are not being addressed—what appears to be the motivation behind the proposed changes to the adoption act is the desire of adults to parent with little reflection on “at what cost to the offspring”. Changes to the Act should not focus on the needs/desires of adults to parent.  Adoption should not be used to complicate the fiction of genetic parenthood.’

‘To falsely use the phrase “in the best interests of the child” while negating their right to their mother’s love and affection is to abuse a child. A child’s right is to be raised in their family of origin, where the genetic map is recognized and understood. Adoption serves no purpose for a mother or her child and was solely introduced to provide a fantasy family for a perceived “deserving” infertile couple.’

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