Key laws and policies
• Prohibitions on human cloning for reproductive purposes Act 2002 (Cth)
• Research involving human embryos Act 2002 (Cth)
Federal Ethical Guidelines
• National Health and Medical Research Council, National Statement on Ethical Conduct in Human Research (2007)
• National Health and Medical Research Council, Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research (2007)
State and Territory Legislation
To fully understand regulation in Australia one must refer to state and territory laws regarding assisted reproduction; legal parentage; and surrogacy – for comprehensive overview of Australian state and territory laws see: http://www.healthlawcentral.com/assistedreproduction
- Federal legislation in Australia bans reproductive cloning and inheritable genetic modification, but extends only so far as its power to regulate corporations. Individual states and territories have enacted mirrored legislation regarding reproductive and research cloning to ensure coverage of individuals. (Note Western Australia does not permit cloning of human embryos for research purposes).
- The 'Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research,' issued by the National Health and Medical Research Council, is the policy document, which carries significant force. All clinics offering assisted reproductive treatment must adhere to the guidelines to meet their registration requirements. The Guidelines prohibit commercial surrogacy, and limit the use of preimplantation genetic diagnosis to the avoidance of serious medical conditions. They do, however, encourage further public discussion of these and other issues. Laws among states vary, however the Department of Human Services of South Australia says that "States must comply with the NHMRC Guidelines unless specific legislation regulating reproductive technology overrides."
- State laws uniformly make surrogacy contracts unenforceable, legal parentage falling, in the first instance, to the birth mother or birth parents. Commercial surrogacy is prohibited in all states and territories, except Northern Territory, by statute. New South Wales, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory, also prohibit commercial surrogacy extra-territorially.
- The Australian Health Ethics Committee, which governs how medical research is conducted, ruled in 2005 that sex selection techniques should not be used in Australia.
Permitted and regulated practices
- 'Altruistic' surrogacy is permitted in each state and territory, subject to meeting stringent criteria'. Reimbursement for 'reasonable expenses' is permitted.
- Providing eggs for reproduction or for research is limited to non-commercial transactions.
- Embryo donation is permitted, in non-commercial situations for research or reproduction.
Access to Information
- Egg, sperm and embryo donation is non-anonymous with NSW, Victoria and Western Australia operating registers at which donor conceived people may access information (depending on time of conception). (See further http://www.healthlawcentral.com/donor-conception
- Department of Human Services of South Australia, "Reproductive Technology: Legislation around Australia"