Scrutiny of Acts and Regulations Committee
Alert Digest No 4 of 2007
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Minutes of Evidence, 4 April 2007
Hands Off Our Ovaries
Infertility Treatment Amendment Bill 2007
13 March 2007
This Bill amends the Infertility Treatment Act 1995 (the ‘Act’) in a manner consistent with amendments made to the Prohibition of Human Cloning Act 2002 and the Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002 of the Commonwealth (the Commonwealth Acts) by the Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction and the Regulation of Human Embryo Research Amendment Act 2006 (the Commonwealth Amendment Act). The amendments are based on the 2005 recommendations of the Legislative Review Committee (also known as the Lockhart Committee).
The Committee notes this extract from the Second Reading Speech –
The Bill enables certain types of research involving embryos to be permitted provided that the research is approved by the NHMRC licensing committee (in accordance with legislated criteria) and that the activity is undertaken in accordance with a licence issued by the NHMRC licensing committee.
In no circumstances can any embryo be developed, outside the body of a woman, beyond 14 days.
Additionally, women who donate eggs through an assisted reproductive technology program must, under the Infertility Treatment Act 1995, be provided with mandatory counselling by an approved counsellor (section 16). The topics to be covered in counselling are specified in the Infertility Treatment Regulations 1997 (section 7). These legislative provisions enable women access to independent advice, support and information prior to donation.
The Committee held private hearings at a Committee meeting on 4 April 2007. The Committee received evidence from –
A transcript of the evidence provided by these witnesses to the Committee is available in hard copy at the Parliamentary library and will also be available on the Committee’s Website.
The Committee received written submissions from the following persons and organisations –
The Committee resolved to release the above submissions and copies may be obtained from the Committee office.
Content and Committee comment
In summary, the proposed amendments to Parts 2A and 4A of the Principal Act—
. The provisions in the Bill come into force on 12 June 2007.
. Inserts in Part 2A of the Act two new offences related to licensing. New sections 21CA and 21CB are offence provisions involving use of embryos without a licence issued by the NHMRC Licensing Committee.
. Substitutes a new section 21H of the Act to enable certain activities to be undertaken provided a licence has been granted by the NHMRC Licensing Committee. The purpose of the new section 21H(1) is to set out all of the activities for which a person may request a licence from the NHMRC Licensing Committee. If the activity does not fall within this list, it is not able to be licensed by the NHMRC Licensing Committee (this means that it is either
. Repeals section 38E of the Act, which made it an offence to create a human embryo other than by fertilisation, or develop such an embryo. This will now be allowed under licence.
. Provides for practices that are prohibited unless authorised by a licence.
. Inserts transitional provisions to clarify that the amendments in the Bill in no way impact or invalidate any existing licences that may have been issued by the NHMRC Licensing Committee under section 21I.
Further, if a person applied for a licence under subsection 21H before these amendments take effect and the licence application has not been decided by the NHMRC Licensing Committee then the person is taken, on and from the commencement of the amendments made by the Bill, to have applied for the licence under section 21H, as amended by the Bill.
. Provides for the automatic repeal of this amending Act one year after all of its provisions have come into operation.
The Committee makes no further comment.