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New IVF laws raise fresh concerns -

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New IVF laws raise fresh concerns

The World Today - Friday, 5 December , 2008 12:50:00

Reporter: Simon Lauder

ELEANOR HALL: Lesbian couples and single women will soon be able to have babies using IVF treatment
in Victoria but some women and doctors say the new laws themselves are discriminatory because they
include mandatory criminal background checks for prospective mothers.

In Melbourne, Simon Lauder reports.

SIMON LAUDER: There was celebration in the Upper House of Victoria's Parliament as the votes were
counted last night.

MALE: Twenty no's, 18, the bill is (interrupted by cheering and applause.)

SIMON LAUDER: The Lower House gave the Government's Assisted Reproductive Treatment Bill the final
tick of approval soon after.

It means Mikaela Olijnyk and Naomi Paton can now have the family they've planned together.

MIKAELA OLIJNYK: One of us has medical infertility and the other doesn't and we're both wanting to
carry a child with two children related through the same donor in a way that would allow our family
to be related to each other.

NAOMI PATON: Biologically yeah. We fly to Perth on Wednesday (laughter) to meet with a potential
donor and start the negotiations.

MIKAELA OLIJNYK: Can I say we'll be up the duff? (Laughter) That's the plan.

SIMON LAUDER: Under the old laws single women and lesbians had to be clinically infertile to
receive IVF treatment in Victoria and even then they weren't allowed to use donor sperm from a
clinic.

Natasha and Melissa had to go to great lengths to conceive their son Caius.

NATASHA: We had to travel interstate every month to track ovulation and travel interstate every
month in order to access donor sperm. We couldn't have access to any medical assistance at all in
Victoria because I'm not infertile.

I felt like we weren't considered good enough to have children, that our family is not recognised
and not valued because we're not straight.

SIMON LAUDER: The Attorney General Rob Hulls says Victoria's laws are no longer in breach of the
Federal Sex Discrimination Act.

ROB HULLS: There are kids that are being born to all sorts of arrangements and they don't have
appropriate legal protections and so this legislation ensures that children, regardless of the
arrangements under which they've been born, are protected. This legislation was always about kids
and ensuring that children born into same sex families or as a result of surrogacy arrangements are
not discriminated against.

SIMON LAUDER: There is a condition in the new laws which is proving controversial - mandatory
criminal background checks. The medical director of Ballarat IVF Dr Russell Dalton says that will
delay fertility treatment in some urgent cases.

RUSSELL DALTON: If we have to wait for the processing of police checks prior to undertaking
fertility treatment for a person who for example has breast cancer at the age of 28 and is
embarking upon invasive and aggressive chemotherapy, that person is going to be significantly
disadvantaged. There's no doubt about that.

SIMON LAUDER: Naomi Paton doesn't think she should have to pass a criminal check to get access to
fertility treatment.

NAOMI PATON: We don't need the police to tell us whether we're suitable to be parents. I think it's
actually quite insulting.

SIMON LAUDER: The Attorney General Rob Hulls says the requirement is meant to protect children and
it's not discriminatory.

ROB HULLS: We believe we have a responsibility to kids that are born of these arrangements and as a
result we believe that police checks are appropriate. We don't believe it will cause any
inconvenience and it will ensure that any possible, unacceptable risk of harm at least can be
addressed through police checks.

SIMON LAUDER: Some women aren't concerned about the background checks, including Vicky who has
already become a mother through IVF.

VICKY: It can't be any more invasive than the vaginal probes that you have to have every second day
for scanning.

ELEANOR HALL: Melbourne mother Vicky, speaking there to Simon Lauder.