Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 07 Hansard (Wednesday, 22 June 2005) . . Page.. 2129 ..
that. It is fortunate that in the final event no budgetary measures were announced by the commonwealth in relation to restricting access to IVF.
On 10 May, however, the commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing, Mr Abbott, announced a clinical review of IVF stating that, “The government considers that it is now timely to review the costs and benefits of assisted reproductive technologies for the purposes of public funding under Medicare.” The terms of reference for the review and the members of the review panel are yet to be confirmed. Regardless, it is important to know that infertility is regarded as a medical condition, which can be effectively treated by assisted reproductive technology clinical interventions, such as IVF. Any restrictions on access to IVF that cannot be justified on clinical grounds would be discriminatory, and indeed contradictory.
On the one hand, the commonwealth government supports couples having children with the so-called baby bonus. On the other hand, the commonwealth has considered restrictions on affordable access for people who need medical assistance in conceiving, and this was highlighted during the most recent commonwealth budget deliberations.
It is the government’s view that any amendments to current Medicare arrangements should only be made on the basis of clinical effectiveness, and hopefully this will be identified by the independent review announced by Minister Abbott. The ACT government remains committed to the recognition of an individual’s right to control his or her own body in relation to its reproductive capacity. These are essentially private matters between an individual and his or her physician.
As we have seen in recent comments by the commonwealth Minister for Health and Ageing relating to the termination of pregnancy, this is not the first time in recent months that political ideology threatens to intrude on the rightful choices of individuals in relation to their reproductive health. This motion is an important one because it reaffirms a commitment to accessible and affordable health services, including assisted reproductive technology, and it does so recognising that such matters should be considered in terms of their clinical effectiveness and efficacy and also the importance of an individual’s right to be able to choose. I commend the motion to the Assembly.
MS PORTER (Ginninderra) (11.02), in reply: It seems a long time since we began this debate. I realise that it is because the all-consuming estimates proceedings intervened. I thank Dr Foskey and Mr Corbell for their contributions to the debate. I suppose I should not have expected those opposite to treat this debate as seriously as others, given their behaviour during the estimates proceedings, or some of them I should say.
Mr Smyth, in his role as the leader of those across the room, led the way by attempting to make some political mileage instead of engaging in substantive debate on the motion, although I note that he does say that the debate needs to be had. Unlike the federal government, which did not seriously consider women’s reproductive health when they crafted their proposal, Mr Corbell and Dr Foskey obviously do take the whole subject of reproductive health for women very seriously.
Mr Abbott and his friends on the hill were not attempting to formulate ways to improve the efficiency of IVF and ART funding arrangements in the lead-up to the federal budget. They were proposing to make an arbitrary decision based on politics, rather than