EDITORIAL

Assisted Reproductive Technology: The new pro-choice battleground

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It seems the Liberals’ desire for Australian women to have more babies only applies to some women! During the last Federal election campaign, Prime Minister John Howard announced plans to introduce a baby bonus tax incentive to reward women who have a baby and then give up work in order to stay home and look after it. The Coalition approves of women — at least some women — undergoing years of invasive reproductive procedures in order to achieve a pregnancy. But it seems they aren’t quite so keen on the use of technology as basic as donor sperm when this simple procedure is used by the “wrong” women — single women and lesbians.

Late last year, the Victorian Liberals, led by Dennis Napthine, introduced the Infertility Treatment (Further Amendment) Bill into the Legislative Council. The aim of this Bill is to restrict access to all forms of assisted reproductive technology — including donor sperm — to women who are medically infertile or who have a male partner whose sperm is unlikely to cause a pregnancy. If passed, this Bill will make providing assisted reproductive services to lesbians and single women illegal.

Feminists have long fought for the right of women to control their own bodies when deciding to continue or terminate a pregnancy. The right to biological self-determination must extend to all women having equal access to available methods of safe assisted reproductive technology, regardless of sexuality, marital status, disability, race, geographical location or income. A recent survey of lesbians and gay men in Victoria revealed 63% of those under 30 years of age want to have children. Just as women resort to alternative methods of ending unwanted pregnancies when safe legal abortion is denied them, women with a strong desire to become pregnant will find a way — safe or not. Defeating the Coalitions’ sexist, homophobic and moralistic bill will give them alternative choices to the backyard “turkey baster.”

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