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New Act regulates reproductive technologies

Hon Marian Hobbs
Associate Minister of Justice

22 August 2005 Media Statement

New Act regulates reproductive technologies

A new Act regulating human reproductive technologies takes effect today.

"Some parts of the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004 have been in force since November last year," Associate Justice Minister Marian Hobbs said. "And from today all aspects of the Act take effect."

Since November 2004 the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act (HART Act) has prohibited such activities as cloning of human embryos for reproductive purposes and the implantation of a human embryo in an animal, or vice versa.

The Act also introduces protection against the commercialisation of surrogacy, embryos and gametes (i.e. eggs and sperm).

"Now that new advisory and ethics committees on assisted human reproduction and research are in place, we can ensure that new human reproduction procedures and associated research are subject to rigorous scrutiny," Marian Hobbs said.

"The new committees are not required to consider established procedures that have been recently approved in regulations."

The list of established procedures includes artificial insemination, IVF, and freezing of gametes, embryos and ovarian tissue.

Marian Hobbs said the new Act also contains principles to guide the work of the advisory and ethics committees, including that the health and well being of a child born as a result of assisted reproductive procedures is an important consideration when making decisions.

"From today people conceived using assisted human reproductive procedures in fertility clinics will be guaranteed access to basic information about their genetic background, either directly from a clinic or, in the future, from Births, Deaths and Marriages," Marian Hobbs said.

"The area of human reproductive research and fertility treatment is a rapidly changing one and I am confident the new Act places New Zealand in a position to keep pace with those changes while ensuring that decisions made are consistent with the values of New Zealanders."

ENDS

Appendix

HART Act - Established procedures

The Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Order 2005 declares various medical procedures to be established procedures for the purposes of the definition of assisted reproductive procedure in section 5 of the HART Act. The broad effect of this is that the requirement under the Act for the approval of the ethics committee will not apply to those established procedures.

In summary the established procedures are:

* Collection of eggs for use in assisted reproductive procedure

* Collection of sperm for use in assisted reproductive procedure

* In vitro fertilisation (IVF)

* Gamete intrafallopian transfer (GIFT)

* Assisted hatching within IVF and Intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI)

* Blastocyst culture within IVF and ICSI

* Artificial insemination

* Cryopreservation of eggs, sperm, embryos and ovarian tissue

* Use of thawed (previously cryopreserved) sperm and embryos in an assisted reproductive procedure

* Pre-implantation genetic diagnosis for the following:

- Familial single-gene disorders

- Familial sex-linked disorders

- Familial chromosomal disorders

- Non-familial chromosomal disorders associated with advanced reproductive age

- Non-familial chromosomal disorders associated with infertility

* Within-family egg and sperm donation in the following circumstances:

- Sister to sister (when both are older than 20 years of age)

- Brother to brother (when both are older than 20 years of age)

- Cousin to cousin (when both are older than 20 years of age)

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