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Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill

Fri, 6 Aug 2004

Media release - Health Committee

Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill

Legislation governing the use of assisted reproductive procedures and human reproductive research was reported back to the House today by the Health Committee.

The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Bill is a Member's bill introduced in 1996 in the name of Dianne Yates. The bill provides a legislative framework for restrictions and controls on human assisted reproductive technology in New Zealand. The committee has considered both the bill and a series of amendments proposed by the Government in April 2003 to reflect changes in technology and scientific knowledge since the bill was developed and to fit within the current legislative framework for the health sector.

Committee chairperson Steve Chadwick notes that the committee agreed on the need for a clear framework for decisions about these matters. "Decisions about human reproduction can affect future generations, so it is important that decisions about assisted human reproduction take place within a robust system for ethical decision making. We are recommending that public input into establishing that ethical framework is strengthened, to ensure that guidelines are set that meet public expectations."

The bill bans some types of procedures outright. The committee recommends adding two further prohibitions: against the genetic modification of gametes and embryos for reproductive purposes, and against the use of gametes from foetuses for reproductive purposes.

Other procedures will require approval from an ethics committee. This approval must be within guidelines set by a ministerial advisory committee. "We recommend strengthening considerably the ability of the public to have input into this process, by requiring the ministerial advisory committee to call for and consider submissions before giving significant advice (unless the matter is urgent). We have introduced reporting requirements that will keep the House informed of the ministerial advisory committee's activities, and that key information is available on the internet," Mrs Chadwick says.

ENDS

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