Reviewing Access to Assisted Reproductive Technology for the Creation of 'Saviour Siblings': Limits on the Basis of Genetic Disposition?

Smith, Malcolm K. (2007) Reviewing Access to Assisted Reproductive Technology for the Creation of 'Saviour Siblings': Limits on the Basis of Genetic Disposition? In The Australasian Bioethics Association and The Australian and New Zealand Institute of Health, Law and Ethics Joint Conference 2007. Health, Bioethics and the Law: Inclusions and Exclusions, 28 November to 1 December, 2007, Melbourne, Australia.


The regulation of assisted reproductive technology (ART) in Australia is a complicated mix of legislation, professional standards and guidelines. The legislation in Victoria, South Australia, and Western Australia, place limits on access to fertility services that do not exist in the non-statutory jurisdictions. Those who are clinically infertile or at risk of passing on a genetic disease or disorder if they were to naturally conceive are able to access services. However, it is arguable that the statutory eligibility criteria remain discriminatory in two ways despite the impact of previous court challenges. Firstly, it remains discriminatory to deny access to single and lesbian women unless they have been unable to conceive after having heterosexual intercourse over a required time frame.

The main focus of the paper however, relates to the second aspect of the statutory eligibility criteria, particularly in relation to the creation of saviour siblings. Some couples seek access to IVF services on the basis that they wish to have another child who would also be a tissue type match for an existing ill child. The use of pre-implantation genetic diagnosis offers assistance in establishing tissue type prior to implantation of an embryo in the IVF cycle. However, under the current statutory eligibility criteria, a couple will only be granted access if they are themselves at risk of passing on a genetic disease or disorder. This means a couple who wish to use PGD solely to detect tissue type would not fall within the eligibility criteria. The lack of eligibility criteria in the non-statutory jurisdictions means that the technology is potentially available for detecting tissue compatibility regardless of whether the parents are themselves at risk of passing on a genetic disease. A distinction that is arguably irrelevant.

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ID Code: 12325
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Assisted Reproductive Technologies, ART, IVF, Saviour Siblings, Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, PGD
ISBN: 9780646480732
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > LAW AND LEGAL STUDIES (180000) > LAW (180100) > Law not elsewhere classified (180199)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2007 (please consult author)
Deposited On: 06 Feb 2008 00:00
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2010 12:55

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