Assisted Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2016

This amendment bill has made a number of important changes to the use of assisted reproductive technologies. Most importantly this bill is the beginning of a response to donor conceived persons (DCP’s), individuals conceived through IVF and other reproductive technologies. The Christian Democratic Party supports the view to obtain non-identifying information about the donor and believes it strikes a balance between the interests of donor conceived people and also the confidentiality of the donors.

Firstly, this bill gives an individual who was born from an Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART) treatment, the ability to obtain non-identifying information about the donor. Information can include: ethnicity, physical characteristics, relevant medical history and the year and sex of each offspring of the donor.

This is important because everyone has the right to know who they are, where they are from and what may medically affect them in the future.

Secondly, the bill also creates a new offence relating to the destruction or falsification of any ART records. It also raises the time limit for bringing proceedings for breaches of the Act from six months to two years. Finally, a central database has been established containing all records from ART treatments, post 2010 allowing access to genetic information for donor conceived individuals. However this database does not currently contain pre-2010 records, these are still maintained by ART facilities.

I have been contacted by many individuals who were conceived pre-2010 who want to see a centralised database established to enable them better access to their genetic identities. The Government has advised that the centralisation of records would come at an estimated cost of $2million dollars, and have also stated that they would not allow donor conceived person’s access to identifying records held without the consent of the donor’s themselves.

The CDP have examined this closely and are keen to move towards a centralised record base. However, it also needs to be recognised that in the past many donors donated on the basis of confidentiality. The Christian Democratic Party has addressed this concern with an amendment that was accepted and supported by the Government. The amendment will accelerate a statutory review to be held within 12 months to assess the case for a centralised record system. Normally, a statutory review would take place in 5 years’ time.

The review will consider how effectively de-identified records are being accessed, and to consider the business case for the centralisation of records. The Christian Democratic Party looks forward to the completion of the statutory review and acknowledges that it is important for a fair and equitable balance to be reached for both the donor conceived individual, their families and the donors.