Thursday, September 3, 2009

Austrailia: New law demands police checks for childless couples

Freedom's on the march.

    Herald Sun (AU) -

    WOULD-BE parents are outraged at new laws forcing them to prove they are not pedophiles or child abusers before they undergo fertility treatment.

    Victorian IVF clinics have started asking patients to submit to police checks ensuring they are fit to be parents.

    The new law will affect about 5000 couples each year.

    Briony and Lew Sanelle, who completed police checks three weeks ago so they could start trying to have their second child through IVF, said they were insulted by the discrimination.

    "My friends trying to have babies don't have to have a police check and go and talk to their doctor before they are given the go-ahead to have a baby, so why should I?" Ms Sanelle said.

    "People who have a shady past who they are trying to direct this at do not have to go through this to conceive naturally . . . this is discrimination."

    Tam and Brenton Ward were asked by Melbourne IVF to undertake checks this week.

    They cannot understand why couples having fertility treatment were singled out.

    Having already experienced the wonders of IVF with a daughter born 17 months ago, Mr Ward said the emotional and financial hardship meant IVF parents would be least likely to harm or neglect children.

    "If it applied to the whole community I would not mind, but why single out people like us in particular, especially when we have been through such a rigorous process already -- through numerous counsellors, doctors and everyone else."

    The requirements were included in the Reproductive Treatment Bill passed by State Parliament last December, which paved the way for single women and lesbians to access IVF.

    Although the regulations were proclaimed on June 1 they have not yet been enacted because the Government does not have the resources to deal with hundreds of child protection record checks it demands.

    But clinics are asking patients to volunteer for checks to avoid hold-ups when the laws are adopted, which industry experts expect to happen between November and January 1.

    IFV pioneer Prof Gab Kovacs, from Monash IVF, said his patients were stunned when told they would have to undergo police checks.

    "It is a stupid regulation, a stupid law and it is not evidence-based," Prof Kovacs said.

    Melbourne IVF chairman Dr Lyndon Hale said the checks were discriminatory and unfair.

    A report from the Victorian Law Reform Commission recommends people should be barred from IVF if they have convictions for serious sexual or violent offences, have had children taken from their care, or are assessed as a potential risk to children.