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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 930 ..

MS TUCKER (4.03): This is indeed a matter of public importance, and I thank Mrs Cross for raising it. I have listened to the comments made by the members who have spoken, and I think they are all important comments.

The Greens are still resolving their detailed position on this issue. Obviously, we are supportive of looking at ways to deal with illnesses that people suffer. We are, of course, interested in the discussion that occurs around technology-but I cannot agree with people who say the church does not have a role.

I think civil society-this society as a whole-must have a role in these discussions. Perhaps I have misrepresented that. I thought people were saying they did not think the church should be getting into it. I do not think that is correct, but I think the church, and all groups in society, should engage fully in these discussions.

We had a debate on surrogacy in this place which, in some ways, was very difficult. Technology had become available for a particular process; the human dynamics of the whole thing then came up, and we had to deal with it as a parliament. That was really difficult, because there were four or more human beings sitting in the gallery who had used that technology, who had a personal case to put. We were here as legislators trying to deal with some very complex questions and issues.

Some of the issues which came up are also relevant to this issue. The issues were about the position society takes on the embryos that are not implanted-the very invasive nature of the whole process, women's role in that; what we, as a society, think is a limit to what women can be subjected to, in having this invasive process occur in their bodies-how to regulate that; and how to be sure that, in removing eggs from their bodies, exploitation of women does not occur.

At the moment, yes-I understand people are saying it is only okay if they are already there, and they are in a test tube somewhere. I understand all that, but I think we need to think ahead and have a far-reaching discussion about it. We are going to have to, one way or another, because the pressure will continue.

There are other questions we need to think clearly about. Who owns what is found? Who owns this research? What will be the access to benefits of this research? Everything is going to private medical research, and access to the results of that research is not provided equitably. It is a user-pays system, in many ways. So there are issues about ownership.

For example, this has come out of IVF, which is a state-funded process. Then you have the private sector, which could do pretty well out of it. So there are questions about ownership of the technology and access for people, regardless of their capacity to pay.

Those are just a couple of the issues I am still grappling with, which the church is interested in. Members of different churches have differing views. There are complex issues in terms of when life starts. There is a lot of continuing discussion about that.

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