Template for response
Part B of the Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted
Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and
Research, 2007
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Life, Marriage and Family Centre, Catholic Archdiocese
Organisation*: of Sydney
*Please only include the name of the organisation here if the submission reflects the views of the organisation
5 Ethical principles for clinical practice of ART
General Questions
Q3. Should Section 5 recognise the significance of the ‘biological connection’
(e.g. between donor-conceived persons and the donors of gametes,
between donor-conceived persons and their siblings or half-siblings, or
between persons conceived from donated embryos and their genetic
parents) as an additional ethical principle for the clinical practice of ART?
(see also questions in relation to Paragraphs 6.1.1 and 6.1.2 and Section
The meaning and significance of the biological connection between
children and parents and between children and siblings or half-siblings
should be recognised as a core ethical principle for the clinical practice of
ART. The importance of the child’s right to his or her identity and
biological heritage is recognised by the UN Convention on the Rights of
the Child and by the collective experience of adopted and donorconceived children. The loss of a child’s biological connectedness is a
profound injustice when it is created and fostered deliberately, as sadly is
often the case with some applications of ART. An increasing body of
biographical accounts has described how discontinuity between a child’s
genetic parentage, gestational parentage and social parentage can result
in the harmful experience of ‘genealogical bewilderment’. 1 2 As Margaret
Somerville, Australian bioethicist and professor of law at McGill University,
has explained:
Knowing who our close biological relatives are and relating to them
is central to how we form our human identity, relate to others and to
the world, and find meaning in life. Children – and their descendants
– who don’t know their genetic origins cannot sense themselves as
embedded in a web of people, past, present and future, through
whom they can trace the thread of life’s passage down the
generations to them.3
Christopher White, ‘Surrogate parenthood for money is a form of human trafficking’, Forbes, 4 April 2014.
This phenomenon was first identified by British psychiatrist Eric Wellisch in his 1952 article, ‘Children without
genealogy – a problem of adoption,’ Mental Health 13 (1952): 41-42.
Margaret Somerville, ‘Brave New Babies’, MercatorNet, 12 September 2008.
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6 Use of gametes in reproductive treatment programs
Questions 11 – 17 & 22 - 23 also relate to Section 7 - Use of donated
General Questions
Section 6.5
Q20. In view of developments in other countries allowing women to receive
compensation above medical and travelling expenses for donating eggs,
should it be permissible for Australian women to also be compensated
for the reproductive effort and risks associated with donating their eggs?
(See also Section 13 Surrogacy)
Allowing financial payments to be given to egg donors fosters a market in
gametes and surrogacy that is incompatible with human dignity. Overseas
experience indicates that such a market increases attitudes of
commodification towards both women and children.
Section 6.10 – 6.11
Q24. Do you think that the current ethical guidance is adequate?
o Should information about the number and sex of half-siblings be
available to donor-conceived persons?
o Do you think that more information about half-siblings should be
available to donor-conceived persons? e.g. identifying
Please see General Comments
Q25. Do you consider 18 years of age too late to have access to this
o Should earlier access to the information be possible?
In keeping with the common law regarding adolescents and their evolving
capacity to consent to significant medical decisions, earlier access to this
information should be made possible when a child has expressed the desire
for this information and has demonstrated the capacity to understand its
significance and ramifications.
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Section 6.12
General Comments on Section 6
The ‘donation’ and/or selling of gametes is a violation of the dignity of the
human person and of the right of the child to be conceived in an act of love
between his or her father and mother, to know that father and mother and, as
far as possible, to be cared for by them (United Nations Convention on the
Rights of the Child, Article 7). This practice should be discouraged. Where
it is permitted, it is vital that the fullest possible protections be put in place of
the child’s right to know their biological and/or birth parents, siblings and halfsiblings, and their biological, cultural and religious heritage. Donor and
recipient information should be made available to all the individuals
concerned, as a matter of justice, including identifying information about
parents and half-siblings.
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7 Use of donated embryos
In addition to questions 11 – 17 & 22 – 23.
General Comments on Section 7
The plight of so-called ‘unwanted’ embryos is a great tragedy and reflects a
grave wrong done to these human beings. State authorities should do all they
can to discourage the creation of embryonic children who are then denied
their right to know and be cared for by their biological parents and may be
handed over to others to raise.
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8 Storage of gametes and embryos
General Comments on Section 8
The storage of human embryos in a state of suspended animation is an
affront to their dignity. The creation of so-called ‘excess’ embryos, where no
serious or realistic intention exists to implant them in their mothers, reflects a
cheapening of human life and should be ceased. There is no truly good option
in the tragic situation where embryos have already been created and frozen.
However, it may be that the course of action most in keeping with the human
dignity of these embryonic human beings is to allow them to thaw, succumb to
a natural death and to have their remains laid to rest in a dignified and
respectful way.
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Information giving, counselling and consent
Specific Questions
Section 9.2
Q42. Among the information which should be discussed, should there be
specific reference to the significance of biological connection between
donor-conceived persons and the donors of gametes, and to the right of
these donor-conceived persons to knowledge of their genetic parents
and siblings? (see also questions in relation to Section 5 and
Paragraphs 6.1.1 and 6.1.2)
The significance of the biological connection between children and their
genetic parents, siblings and half-siblings should be explicitly recognised as
a requirement of justice to the child, consistent with their human dignity.
Donors must be informed about the significance for children of knowing their
biological relatives and its importance as a matter of basic justice and human
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Record keeping and data reporting
General Comments on Section 10
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11 Sex selection
Specific Questions
Q51. Is it possible to define a “serious genetic condition” for the purposes of
allowing sex selection? If so, please provide a suitable definition.
Although a serious genetic condition is a tremendous challenge and
heartache for families, the deliberate destruction of an embryonic human
being because he or she has a sex-linked genetic condition is a grave
violation of the right to life of that embryo and embodies the judgment that
persons with sex-linked genetic conditions should be eliminated from our
society. What is needed is a greater level of support services for couples and
families who face a prenatal diagnosis of a serious genetic condition and
ongoing social and financial support to enable them to care for their child and
give them the best life possible.
General Comments on Section 11
Sex-selection of human embryos is a grave violation of the equal right of male
and female children to life. It can in no circumstances be considered ethically
acceptable. Disincentives for sex selection should take the form of lifeaffirming prenatal care from fertility specialists, medical and nursing
practitioners and strong messaging at all levels of government and society
about the value of human life and the equal dignity and worth of male and
female children. Greater community support is needed and greater funding of
support services for couples and families that will encourage them to cherish
and value the life of their embryonic daughter or son.
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12 Preimplantation genetic diagnosis
Specific Questions
Section 12.1 – 12.2
Q.3 Under what situations do you think the use of preimplantation genetic
diagnosis is ethically acceptable?
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis is only ethically acceptable when it is
directed to maintaining the life and health of the human embryo. If it is used
in order to prevent that embryo from being implanted and to arrest or
terminate its natural development, it is not a genuine therapeutic application
but an attack upon the dignity and right to life of that embryonic human
General Comments on Section 12
Preimplantation genetic diagnosis, when it involves the deliberate selection
of an embryonic child for either life or death based upon his or her genetic
profile, is ethically unacceptable. PGD is a rejection of the intrinsic dignity
and worth of the human embryo and is a failure to treat him or her with the
unconditional love and respect owed to every child by their parents and by
the medical practitioners who should care for that child.
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13 Surrogacy
Specific Questions
Section 13.2
Q57. In view of developments in other countries, should there be
compensation, more than expenses, for gestational mothers congruent
with the reproductive effort contributed?
The buying and selling of the most intimate and personal of human activities
– the bearing of a child – is ethically unacceptable and must continue to be
rejected. The existence of this ‘trade’ is a tragic sign of the continued
inequality and exploitation suffered by many women in our world. Financial
compensation for gestational mothers will only continue to draw the neediest
and most economically and socially disadvantaged women into the ‘market’
for reproductive ‘labour’.
General Comments on Section 13
As new surrogacy ‘markets’ open up in the global economy, women are
becoming both the consumers and the consumed. The dignity of women is
violated, because the bearing of a child is not simply a biological function
which can be ‘outsourced’ to another in return for financial compensation, but
a profoundly intimate relationship involving her whole person. Surrogacy
violates the dignity of the child by treating him or her as a commodity.
Regardless of the level of ‘demand’ for children, it is imperative that state
authorities maintain the prohibition on the buying and selling of reproductive
‘labour’ and recognise it as a grave violation of human dignity.
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Innovations, training and quality assurance
General Questions
Q59. Have you encountered any difficulties in the interpretation and/or
application of the current ethical guidance in Section 14?
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Q60. Do you think that there are gaps in the current ethical guidance in
Section 14?
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General Comments on Section 14
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