Friday, December 5, 2008

Sydney Morning Herald - "Fertility Bill Shows Respect: Brumby" by AAP

Landmark legislation giving lesbians and single women access to fertility treatment is about respecting diversity of families and not passing judgment, Victorian Premier John Brumby says.

Speaking a day after the upper house passed the controversial Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) bill, Mr Brumby said the laws were a positive step and praised MPs for conducting a respectful debate.

"It's about respecting that there are different types of families in our society and that the interests of children are paramount and that's what the legislation gives effect to," Mr Brumby said on Friday.

"It's government in a sense getting out of the way of individuals and families - letting them make judgments without us passing judgment on what we think is right or wrong, and putting the interests of children at the forefront."

The Victorian upper house narrowly passed the bill 20-18 on the final sitting day of parliament for the year.

It gives single and lesbian women access to fertility treatment, including IVF, and grants gay partners and parents of surrogate children legal parenting rights.

The new laws also eradicate the need for surrogate couples to travel interstate to access reproductive treatment and allow women to conceive using the sperm of their dead partners, with prior consent.

Previously women had to be infertile to qualify for reproductive treatment, ruling surrogate mothers and most single and lesbian women out.

Those seeking fertility treatment must submit to controversial police checks and have a record free of convictions for sexual or violent offences and child protection orders.

Mr Brumby defended the clause, which was hotly contested, saying while it would be inconvenient for some people it was an appropriate safeguard.

"It's an issue really about whether the support is provided to someone who potentially has previously shown that they're not capable of bringing up children, or for example, have abused children.

"It's just aiming to protect the public interest and, I think, if you had a position where a couple who had a long history of abusing children wanted to use these procedures you'd say, well is it appropriate that a couple in those circumstances should be supported by the state, supported by taxpayers in this way?

"I think the overwhelming majority of the public would say it's not appropriate."

[Link: Original Article ]

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