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Monday, 2 December 2002
Page: 6874

Senator STOTT DESPOJA (5:47 PM) —I indicate that I will be opposing these amendments. I have asked my colleagues to make up their own minds on these particular amendments and, so far, all but one have indicated to me that they oppose the amendments. Obviously, many people in this place would understand why the process of gender selection could appear distasteful, particularly if, as some media reports have it, it is some kind of fashion statement. But, as has been acknowledged by people—including the mover of these amendments and the minister—there are very good reasons why a couple would want to gender select—for example, to avoid passing on a gender specific inheritable disease. In these circumstances, I believe that gender selection is justifiable and legitimate.

As I understand it, these amendments do not ban gender selection per se, but they seek to make it an offence to allow gender selection as a criterion to designate ART embryos as excess. If the real issue here, and the real desire of Senator Hogg, is to ban gender selection per se or entirely, then I suspect that this is the wrong legislation in which to do that. As the minister has pointed out, it would need to be addressed in state regulation and the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee guidelines. As I have stated, there are good reasons why this practice is and should be allowed. There are perfectly legitimate reasons why genuinely excess ART embryos may arise because of gender selection. So I indicate, on behalf of myself and a number of my colleagues, that we will be opposing the amendments.