Encyclopedia of Reproductive Technologies

By Annette Burfoot | Go to book overview
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Western Australia

Western Australia's Human Reproductive Technology Act (1991) is similar to the South Australian statute, as it establishes a licensing system and sets up the ten-member Western Australian Reproductive Technology Council. An individual or corporate body must obtain a license in order to store eggs, sperm, and embryos, and a practice license enables the carrying out of any "artificial fertilization procedure" (defined to include artificial insemination and IVF) and any approved research project.

The Technology Council's major tasks include developing a code of practice, offering advice to the government on reproductive technology and licensing matters, and considering and approving (where appropriate) research proposals. Unlike the other two state statutes, the Western Australian law defines "embryo" and "fertilization," presumably to avoid the difficulties encountered by the Victorian legislation. It also provides that the council approve experiments only when satisfied that the procedures are intended to be therapeutic for an egg or embryo and that, according to scientific and medical knowledge, detriment to any egg in the process of fertilization or any embryo is unlikely.


New Zealand

The level of public comment, inquiry, and legislative activity regarding assisted conception has been much lower in New Zealand, where the government has left most issues of regulation, record keeping, and access to the medical profession. The Department of Justice produced an "issues" paper for public discussion in 1985, but the only legislative change has been a 1987 amendment to the Status of Children Act deeming gamete donors not to be the legal parents. In 1993 the government established a national three-person ethics committee to investigate the emerging issues.


Conclusion

Despite the various arguments made vis-à-vis reproductive technologies, the legislation passed in Australia tends to focus primarily on the status of the extracorporeal human embryo, the assumed importance of (heterosexual) marriage as the basis for family formation, and the need to control the kinds of experiments medical scientists undertake. There has been little legislative attention to the interests of women, who are overwhelmingly the patients in reproductive technology programs, or to the possibilities for reproductive autonomy in this context. Moreover, as the federal

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