Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 04 Hansard (Tuesday, 20 April 2021) . . Page.. 876 ..
discussions with colleagues, stakeholders and the community to help influence best-practice outcomes for ART support and regulation in the ACT.
MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee—Minister for Skills, Minister for Transport and City Services and Special Minister of State) (4.19): I thank Dr Paterson for bringing this motion forward. It addresses a longstanding gap in the ACT’s statute book—the regulation of artificial reproductive treatment or technology, otherwise known as ART. ART services play an incredibly valuable role in our health system in making and supporting families and ART providers perform a variety of different fertility services, from IVF, IUI and ICSI through to fertility preservation and gamete donation used in ART procedures. They support a diverse range of families, some of whom would otherwise find it difficult to have children—couples of all forms with fertility issues; LGBTIQ families, including both lesbian couples with donor sperm and gay couples through egg donation, including surrogacy—and they enable single mothers by choice to have children with donor sperm.
ART is often a very expensive process and one that can have significant physical and health impacts on patients, as well as significant emotional impact on intended parents and children born as result. As Dr Paterson noted in her motion, the NHMRC has provided Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research. These detailed guidelines play an important role, are evidence based, were developed by experts, including through consultation, and address many of the practice related issues. However, they are just a guide.
To what extent an ART provider in the ACT delivers services under the guidelines may differ. The guidelines are not enough on their own to ensure that ART services act ethically, and they are to be read in conjunction with federal and state and territory legislation. When it is read in conjunction with those pieces of legislation there is a robust framework in place for the conduct of ART in Australia, but because there is no specific legislation in the ACT this is a significant gap in creating a robust framework in the territory.
Legal parentage, including parentage resulting from an ART procedure, including surrogacy, is already regulated through the Parentage Act 2004. This act has been identified for reform in reviews into equality in the ACT. Legislation is required to support the adherence to ethical practice and ensure that it is based on an approach that takes into account the ACTs unique circumstances.
There is some self-regulation in the area by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee, or RTAC, the professional group of the board of the Fertility Society of Australia, which sets standards for the performance of ART through an audited code of practice and the granting of licences to practise ART within Australia. However, a framework for ART in the ACT should consider licensing or registration of ART providers by the ACT government, as in other jurisdictions, to ensure that any breaches of ethical guidelines are monitored and addressed as a requirement of being licensed or registered.
A range of other issues also need to be considered. Children born as a result of donor conception have a right to know where they came from, including identifying