Health Minister Roger Cook says surrogacy reform is still on the agenda

Western Australia’s Health Minister, Roger Cook, says surrogacy reform is still on the agenda for the McGowan government despite setbacks.

In 2019 discussions over the bill saw fiery debates in the state’s lower house, but when the legislation moved to the upper house Liberal MP Nick Goiran delivered a filibuster speech that dragged on for weeks, until the bill was sent to a committee for further research.

The Health Minister says the government is now tackling the issues raised by that process.

“A Parliamentary Committee undertook a review of the Government’s Human Reproductive Technology and Surrogacy Legislative Amendment Bill 2018.”

“The Committee report raised some complex issues that do need addressing, however, the very clear intention of the bill is to remove potential discrimination in our legislation, thereby expanding access to surrogacy to single men and gay couples.” Cook told OUTinPerth.

“We are the only state in Australia where gay men can’t currently access surrogacy. We are well advanced in working through the Committee’s recommendations to progress the necessary amendments to this legislation.” the Health Minister said.

The bill was referred to committee on 10 April 2019, after Liberal MP Nick Goiran delivered an epic speech that filled over 100 pages of Hansard. The committee delivered it’s report in June last year.

Sitting on the committee was Labor’s Dr Sally Talbot, Pierre Yang, alongside Liberals Nick Goiran and Simon O’Brien, and the National’s Colin de Grussa.

Their report echoed the discussion that had occurred in the chamber with the Labor and Nationals members of the committee largely being in agreement, and the Liberal members disagreeing with the findings.

The majority of the committee found that some sections of the current laws regarding surrogacy that were implemented in 1991 are inconsistent with the state’s sex discrimination act, while other elements were discriminatory but not unlawfully so.

They also found that the current legislation does not clearly define what a ‘lawful surrogacy arrangement’ is and this causes confusion. There is also a call for the government to take a closer look at how the legislation will treat people who are transgender or intersex when they engage with in vitro fertilisation services.

It was also recommended that more information is also needed around how age limits are applied in relation to accessing services and surrogacy arrangements. The report also suggests that greater clarity is also needed around the wording relating to female couples wanting to access fertility services.

Graeme Watson



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