Assisted Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2016

16th March 2016

Mr GREG PIPER (Lake Macquarie) [11.52 a.m.]: I speak briefly in support of the Assisted Reproductive Technology Amendment Bill 2016, which will provide invaluable information to an increasing number of people born to donor parents. I believe this bill deals sensitively with many of the issues those people face, and strikes a good balance between the need to protect and the need to provide the type of information considered vital by many donor-conceived individuals. Key elements of the bill relate to the retention of data for up to 75 years, the possibility of the useful life of gametes increasing from 10 to 15 years and the freeing up of restrictions around the use of donor sperm, changing it from the five-woman limit to the five-family limit. These are sensible changes. There are other implications in the regulatory regime for providers of the system of reproductive technology that are sensible and supportable.

Recently I was contacted by a young man who learned only recently that the person he considered to be his father was not actually his biological father. Rather, both he and his brother were conceived from different donor fathers. This was quite a shock to him and obviously raised an enormous number of questions for the young man. He spoke of a culture of secrecy surrounding donor births and that while he had no problem with the parents who had raised him since birth—he regarded them as his parents and loved them—he wanted to identify and know more about his biological father. He stated:

I have a father and don't need another one. But my brother and I have the right to know our biological family and medical history.

No doubt this would be a common sentiment for people in such circumstances. However, this bill will not provide all of those things but I support it because it will provide donor-conceived people with information about their biological parent without actually identifying them in cases where they do not wish to be identified. I believe the bill provides the right balance. It will provide information about a donor's ethnicity, physical characteristics and medical history, but it will protect other identifying factors if requested by the donor. The bill provides a clear choice for donors as to whether or not they want their identity revealed at any stage in the future. It still allows those who want to be known, to be known. Considerations are built into the bill so that the information can be released under very narrow circumstances. Once again, a good balance has been found.

Issues around assisted reproductive technology are technically, ethically and morally complex and sensitive, and therefore somewhat difficult to legislate. However, as with most things, the more transparency involved in their management, the better off generally will be the affected parties. I will watch with interest the foreshadowed amendments of the Opposition in the other place. They refer to the Victorian model, with which I am not fully conversant. I believe this bill is a good attempt to balance competing interests and I acknowledge the Minister and her staff for their efforts in finding a way of managing the rights of the donor as well as the rights of the donor-conceived individual. It is a big step forward for New South Wales. At this stage, I support the bill and commend it to the House.

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