Saturday, August 1, 2009

Herald Sun - “AMA head Dr Andrew Pesce in IVF row” by Eleni Hale

THE new head of the Australian Medical Association has said single women and gay couples should not have access to IVF.

Dr Andrew Pesce, elected AMA federal president in May, told the Sunday Herald Sun that IVF should not be a "lifestyle choice" and use of the treatment by same sex couples went against the "natural order".

"Fertility treatment is there to treat diseases that cause infertility, it shouldn't be there as a lifestyle choice," Dr Pesce said.
"For example, single women (who choose IVF) don't have a disease, they just don't have a partner. Same-sex couples, they don't have disease but they are using an option that gets around the natural order of things."

Dr Pesce later contacted this newspaper and said his comments were "clumsy" and a mistake.

He said single women and same sex couples should have access to IVF, but could not give a reason for his earlier remarks.
The comments have thrown the AMA into crisis, with former president Dr Kerryn Phelps saying Dr Pesce's views were "not rational".

Equal rights campaigners called for his resignation, saying his comments were out of the "stone age".

"If male/female couples (receiving IVF treatment) followed the 'natural order' of things then they would remain childless," Dr Phelps said.

"It is not rational to say that IVF is not there as a lifestyle choice, it is a lifestyle choice. This is not AMA policy because AMA policy is non-discrimination."

Gay and Lesbian Lobby Group convenor Emily Gray called for Dr Pesce to resign immediately.

"He shouldn't be holding a position of responsibility if he's going to discriminate against (same-sex couples') entitlement to the same medical treatment as everyone else," Ms Gray said.

"He needs to open up his eyes and get with the times."

Monash IVF director Dr Lynn Burmeister said fertility treatments should be available to everyone.

"I don't agree with that view, it's discrimination, everyone has an equal right to access treatment," Dr Burmeister said.

Last year the Victorian Parliament granted lesbian couples and single women access to fertility treatment under the controversial Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill.

[Link: Original Article]

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