Western Australia’s “outdated” surrogacy and reproductive technology laws discriminate against gay couples and should be changed, a review of the legislation has recommended.
In January last year, the state government announced an independent review of WA’s assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy legislation. The review’s report by Deakin University associate professor Sonia Allan was released last week and makes 122 recommendations.
Among them, the report found current legislation discriminated against people on the grounds of their sex and relationship status, contrary to Commonwealth law.
“Male same-sex couples can’t access assisted reproductive technology or surrogacy. There are also barriers for women who are facing impending fertility,” Dr Allan told ABC News.
As a result, those seeking altruistic surrogacy were being forced interstate or overseas, moving them away from family and support systems, Dr Allan said.
“They might find themselves in situations where they are engaging in practices they wouldn’t have in this country or in Western Australia, purely because the law in Western Australia is stopping them from accessing treatment,” she said.
Dr Allan said the 25-year-old reproductive technology legislation needed updating because in the years since it was written assisted reproduction “has become commonplace”.
“Between one in four and one in six couples will have some sort of fertility issue, and the regulatory system needs to respond and evolve in relation to those changes,” she said.
“Society has changed and we are much more accepting of different relationship types and also of the technology itself.”
The Western Australian government has previously introduced legislation to remove the ban on gay male couples’ access to altruistic surrogacy, but the bill has stalled in the state’s Upper House.
Responding to the review’s report, Western Australian Health Minister Roger Cook said the government would give careful consideration to the review’s recommendations.
“This report deals with a rapidly evolving landscape and provides insight into the highly complex social, ethical and legal issues that surround the practices of ART and surrogacy. It also highlights the significant impact – positive and negative – that these practices can have on the individuals involved.
“While there is an undeniable need to update WA’s regulation around these practices, it is imperative that any changes we adopt are workable, serve the best interests of all involved and give precedence to the welfare of individuals born as a result of such practices.”
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