NSW government will change IVF law to protect donors and donor-conceived children

Early childhood teacher Natalie Parker seeks better protection of IVF
embryo donors.
Early childhood teacher Natalie Parker seeks better protection of IVF embryo donors. Photo: Glenn Campbell

The NSW government plans to change IVF law to ensure the rights of donors and donor-conceived children are better protected.

The change comes after sustained lobbying by mother Natalie Parker, who believes she was misled by the woman to whom she donated two embryos.

Health Minister Brad Hazzard wrote to Ms Parker last month advising her the government would seek to amend the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act to improve the information about donors and donor-conceived children kept on the Central Register.

Mr Hazzard said the proposed amendments follow a NSW Health review of the ART Act. This review was sparked by Fairfax Media revelations of Ms Parker's case. Mr Hazzard said the review identified "a number of areas for improvement" to the act. A spokeswoman for NSW Health said the government expects to introduce into Parliament the changes to the act in the second half of this year.

Ms Parker said she felt very reassured that positive changes would be made to the law. "The fact that NSW Health and the Fertility Society of Australia have made a commitment to address the loopholes in the system indicates that my campaigning over the last year has been worthwhile," she said. "I look forward to a more robust system that ensures the rights of all those involved."

It has been over a year since Fairfax Media first revealed the "secret son" case which exposed loopholes in existing IVF law and clinic practices. A Sydney woman is alleged to have faked the miscarriage of her donor-conceived baby so she didn't have to honour an agreement to stay in touch with the child's genetic parents.

Ms Parker believes the woman to whom she donated two embryos has deliberately misled her and their IVF clinic about the birth of a baby boy Ms Parker thinks is the result of her donation.

The Fertility Society of Australia has already tightened its industry guidelines to avoid a repeat of the Parker case. IVF clinics now require women who use donated eggs, sperm or embryos to give a written undertaking they will have a blood test to verify whether they fell pregnant as the result of treatment.

Women who fail to provide the results of a pregnancy blood test will be reported to state authorities.

The chairman of the FSA's Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee, Phil Matson, has also told Ms Parker that he will look at "the best way of revising the donor criterion" in the industry's code of practice.

"The receipt of donated gametes or embryos is a very privileged position, but with that privilege goes a responsibility which extends to the donors and any resulting children," Mr Matson wrote to Ms Parker.