South Australian Social Inclusion Minister Ian Hunter says lesbian couples and single women are a step closer to accessing IVF services after a bill to change the state’s laws on the issue passed in the Upper House last night.

Hunter’s private member’s bill to amend Section Nine of South Australia’s Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 – which currently prevents some single women and women in same-sex relationships from accessing fertility treatment – passed in the Legislative Council, 12 votes to 9.

“Currently under South Australian law, a woman has to be diagnosed as medically infertile in order to access assisted reproductive treatment [ART],” Hunter said.

“This has significant implications for single women and lesbian couples in that it specifically excludes those who may not have any medical impediment to achieve pregnancy, but whose social circumstances prevent them from conceiving without some form of [ART].

The bill will now head to the Lower House for a vote.

“We’ll be briefing members in the Lower House and explaining what the bill does for [ART] and hopefully the community will get on board and support the bill as well by contacting their local MPs and expressing their views on this,” Hunter said.

Hunter said, if passed, the laws will bring South Australia in line with other states.

“The recent passage of the Family Relationships (Parentage) Amendment Act 2011 means that lesbian couples who conceive a child through [ART] are able to have both mothers recognised on the child’s birth certificate, but these same couples cannot access ART in SA and are forced to travel interstate,” Hunter said.

“It’s time to remove discrimination from the law.”

MPs have been allowed a conscience vote on the bill.

Similar legislation was introduced in 2009 but was defeated by one vote.

South Australia is one of the last states to allow lesbians and single women access to ART services.

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