Wednesday, July 16, 2008

MCV - "The fight for Fertility Rights" by Rachel Cook

Conservatives applaud MP’s free vote on lesbian and gay parenting.
New legislation regarding lesbians’ and single women’s access to assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy in Victoria will go to a Parliamentary conscience vote, it was announced this week.

If passed, the legislative changes (recommended by the Victorian Law Reform Commission in June 2007 and accepted by the government in December 2007) would greatly benefit lesbians, gay men and single women who wish to become parents.

Premier Brumby’s announcement of a conscience vote, which will allow ALP politicians opposed to the issue to vote accordingly, has been welcomed by conservative lobby group the Australian Family Association (AFA).

“It [the conscience vote] was by no means expected,” AFA national spokesperson Angela Conway told MCV. “I hoped they would but didn’t expect them to; so this is excellent recognition of the gravity of the issue [which is] a serious moral issue for many people in the community.”

Conway expressed her concern over “the growing number of people who are conceived using donor gametes who say they have been abused because of the separation from their natural parents. You hear the testimony of these young people and it’s about the ethical situation of same-sex parents bringing children into existence this way.”

Felicity Marlowe, spokesperson for Victoria’s Rainbow Families Council, told MCV that Conway was misrepresenting the situation.
“I’ve met a lot of people who were conceived through donor gametes before the law changed, so they had no access to information about the donors, but the laws have changed. Since 1988, donors have had to consent to providing personal information.”

Marlowe said that there have been five years of thorough consultation into these issues, and advocates are now waiting to see the final Bill and how voting pans out.

“We are remaining optimistic and positive for our families,” she said. “We are very confident that the best interests and rights of our children will win over other issues that might get in the way.”

Speculation that pressure from conservative Christian elements of the Labor Party was behind the call for a conscience vote was dismissed by the ALP member for Prahran, Tony Lupton.

“The Labor Party has had a long-standing policy when legislation involves matters concerning the start of life or death; we have a conscience vote,” he said, adding that he is happy with the progression of the Bill so far.

“I support the legislation very strongly, and in fact I think the legislation should and will pass the Parliament regardless; there’s every chance many members will vote for it,” Lupton concluded.

Victorian Opposition Leader, Ted Baillieu, is also expected to allow his party a free vote, depending on the Bill’s details.

However, some politicians remain fixed in their views.

National Party MP Peter Hall, who voted against the Relationships Bill 2007, which allows same-sex and de facto couples to formally register their relationships, told MCV that he would not be voting to allow the changes in ART and surrogacy legislation.

“I’ve never supported that concept before and I don’t expect I will change my mind.” Hall said.

[Link: Original Article]

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