[ASC-media] Media Release: Directed Gamete Donation Is Discriminatory

Australasian Science science at control.com.au
Wed Jul 29 23:56:44 CEST 2009

For immediate release

Directed Gamete Donation Is Discriminatory

As advances in assisted reproductive treatment broaden the options  
available to infertile couples, legal issues are arising over the  
choices available to donors of gametes (sperm and eggs). Guided by  
research into how these issues are governed under various  
jurisdictions, Mrs Bernadette Richards, a senior lecturer in the  
University of Adelaide’s School of Law, is challenging how access to  
reproductive treatment can be linked to subjective criteria like  
sexual orientation, race and religion.

“Directed donation of gametes based upon characteristics such as age  
or religious persuasion is inconsistent with anti-discrimination law  
and undermines values that are publicly espoused in Australia,”  
Richards writes in the August issue of Australasian Science magazine.

Describing access to reproductive treatment as a “lifeline” for people  
unable to conceive naturally, Richards lists three options available  
to donors: unconditionally donate; personally donate to a known  
individual/couple; or impose criteria on the class of recipient of the  
material. “It is with this third type, known as directed donation,  
that I take issue,” Richards writes. “Access to reproductive  
treatment, a publicly funded medical facility, ought to be based upon  
identifiable equitable principles”.

Richards accepts that “access to reproductive treatment is monitored  
to ensure that we do not reduce children (or potential children) to a  
commodity purchased on the open market”, but is concerned that  
“protection of future children must be limited to ascertaining such  
characteristics as conviction of violent crimes or the exhibition of  
at-risk behaviour (such as accessing child pornography). We cannot  
deny access on purely subjective grounds such as race, religion or  
sexuality, yet the potential for such discrimination is legislatively  
endorsed in NSW and open to interpretation in other jurisdictions…

“The basic principle of donation involves an altruistic gift of  
rights. To place constraints on this gift is to undermine the  
donation. Clinics carefully counsel and treat donors and recipients,  
and the best interests of the child are met through these processes.  
The focus is on the potential child, not the sexual orientation, race  
or religious views of the recipients…

“Donors can choose to donate to identified individuals or not at all;  
no one is forced to donate. To allow donation with specific  
limitations on the class of recipient is taking a step backwards on  
our journey to being a society free from discrimination.”

Summaries and quotations of selected passages for reporting or review  
are permissible provided AUSTRALASIAN SCIENCE MAGAZINE is credited as  
the source of this story.

Mrs Bernadette Richards on (08) 8303 or 0422 128 909.
For a full copy or for permission to reproduce this article or a photo  
of Bernadette Richards call Peter Pockley on (02) 9660 6363.
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