Despite government legislation to allow gay couples access to IVF treatment in Victoria, Australia, many aspiring parents have had their applications delayed due to a lack of resources.
The Assistant Reproductive Treatment Bill, which was passed in December 2008, gave gay women the right to access IVF treatment and donor sperm for the first time.
Although the Bill removed the statutory requirement that a woman be married or in a de facto relationship with a man to receive treatment, it introduced new rules stating that a woman and her partner must have a criminal records check and child protection order check, carried out by a counsellor, before they could access treatment.
The criminal records check also applies to straight couples, although critics have described it as “abhorrent”.
During discussion of the bill, doctors criticised the government for acting as “fertility policemen” and claimed that there were already rigorous assessments in place.
However, the state director for the Australian Christian Lobby, Rob Ward, was vehemently against the Bill, claiming that “Generations of children will suffer confusion and genetic bewilderment,” if it got passed.
The Act was supposed to be proclaimed on July 1st, but the government has had to introduce a delay, as it is currently unable to deal with the high level of record checks expected. This may be due to a lack of bureaucratic support, technology or human resources.
Dr John McBain, an IVF director from Melbourne, told the Herald Sun that the government “is telling us it doesn’t have the resources in place to cope with the police checks,” while the shadow health spokeswoman Helen Shardey claimed that the government hadn’t developed a suitable IT programme to process the checks.
McBain advises gay couple to apply for criminal record checks, which will disqualify anyone who has committed a serious violent or sexual offence, before approaching their doctor for treatment.