Finance Minister Penny Wong’s news that she and partner Sophie Allouache are expecting a child has drawn attention to discriminatory laws regarding access to IVF in South Australia.
Currently in the state, only women who are medically infertile or who carry a risk of an inheritable disease can access donor sperm for insemination.
This means most lesbians using donor sperm must travel interstate, usually NSW, Victoria or the ACT. It is not known where Wong and Allouche had IVF treatment.
The Social Development Committee – a standing committee of the South Australian Parliament – completed an inquiry into same-sex parenting this year. It concluded that IVF laws which precluded lesbian couples from accessing IVF clinics needed to be changed.
Out Labor MLC Ian Hunter said as a result of the committee findings, a new amendment bill has been drawn up and is likely to be presented to parliament in the next 12 months.
“This discriminatory provision in the IVF legislation must be changed,” Hunter said.
“The Social Development Committee’s draft bill may be introduced to do that in the near future by any one of my Committee members.”
Legal recognition of same-sex parents also remains an issue for the state. The same inquiry found that, under South Australian law, if a married woman becomes pregnant through the use of assisted reproductive treatment with donor sperm, her husband is treated as the legal father of the child and his name is placed on the child’s birth certificate.
There is no similar presumption of parentage for same-sex co-parents under state law.
“The partner of a lesbian woman who has become pregnant through the use of donor sperm is not recognised in law as a parent, even though she may be in a committed long-term relationship with her partner, consented to her partner having the procedure and has expressed clear intention to co-parent the child,” the report states.
“South Australian law does not permit the woman’s name to be listed on the child’s birth certificate. On this matter, South Australia lags behind every other Australian jurisdiction.”
This discrimination was found to lead to difficulties for a same-sex co-parent including not easily being able to enrol the child at school or approve school excursions. Nor can they legally give permission for the child to be treated in a medical emergency.
South Australian Greens MLC Tammy Franks told the Star Observer she’d support legislation to change the current laws to allow same-sex couples to access the technology.
“There should be no discrimination of this sort in regards to reproductive technology,” she said.
“Obviously it’s a bit hard for a Greens member to get legislation on these things up, it should come from the Government and I’d support it if it did.”