Monday, July 14, 2008

Herald Sun - "MPs also choose on gays' fertility rights" by John Ferguson

STATE Cabinet has backed a vote among Labor MPs on legislation covering fertility treatment access for gays and single women.

Premier John Brumby has told the MPs they will have a free vote on assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy.

The Government is drafting legislation to better enable gay couples and single women to have children and expects it to be tabled this year.

Last week's decision to allow a conscience vote will appease concerns raised by Catholic MPs uncertain about the broadening of treatment, including IVF.

Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu is also set to allow his MPs a free vote, though this depends on the Bill's detail.

Mr Brumby has previously supported a conscience vote on abortion reforms being backed by the Government, making the last half of the year a potentially divisive environment in the State Parliament.

The Premier told MPs the ART issue was complex and the sort of subject on which MPs could determine their position on the basis of their own conscience.

Attorney-General Rob Hulls announced plans to reform ART legislation just before Christmas.

Mr Hulls said that the changes would bring Victoria into line with other states and "better reflect the reality of modern families".

"The reality is that many Victorian children are already born to same-sex couples and to single women and yet those children don't enjoy the same legal protections as others," Mr Hulls said in December.

The changes are set to be based on the recommendations of the Victorian Law Reform Commission.

Under those proposed changes:

GAYS would not be forced to travel interstate for treatment to become pregnant.

A PANEL would be set up to screen people seeking the treatment in a clinic if convicted of a sexual offence.

SURROGACY arrangements would be changed to make it easier for surrogate mothers to receive treatment.

THE ban on commercial surrogacy would continue.

THE mother's female partner would be recognised as a parent of the child who was conceived using treatment.

[Link: Original Article]

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