Eligibility requirements for fertility treatments in Victoria are outlined in Section 10 of the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008.
According to the Act, a doctor must be satisfied that:
- the woman is unlikely to become pregnant other than by a treatment procedure; or
- the woman is unlikely to be able to carry a pregnancy or give birth to a child without a treatment procedure; or
- the woman is at risk of transmitting a genetic abnormality or genetic disease to a child born as a result of a pregnancy conceived other than by a treatment procedure, including a genetic abnormality or genetic disease for which the woman’s partner is the carrier.
Fertility treatment in Australia
Having fertility treatment in Australia, and using an Australian donor or surrogate if you need one, has many benefits. These include:
- A high standard of regulated healthcare.
- Communication in English to ensure all parties are fully informed and understand the implications of treatment.
- Easy access to treatment
- Easy access to local support networks.
- Legal protections which ensure a donor or surrogate can be known to you and your potential child.
- Donors and surrogates are more likely to share your values and cultural background.
- Victorian legislation limits the number of women who can be treated by a donor to 10. Family limits are also in place in other Australian states. International commercial egg and sperm banks do not have such limits, meaning very large numbers of children can be created from the same donor.
- Treatment in Australia poses fewer legal challenges regarding immigration, citizenship, and recognition of parentage.
- It gives you greater opportunity to be involved at all stages: not only prior to conception, but from embryo transfer to delivery.
- Enables communication and ongoing contact if desired between the surrogate, parents and child born.
If you are thinking about undertaking IVF, donor treatment or surrogacy in another country, make sure you are aware of the laws and regulations of that country. Regulation of fertility treatment varies between countries. Some countries have quite strict regulation while others have none. A lack of regulation in some countries can pose potentially serious risks and disadvantages for all parties involved – in particular, for resulting children. VARTA strongly encourages people considering surrogacy or donor treatment abroad to discuss options for local treatment with a fertility specialist first.
Taking eggs, sperm or embryos overseas
If you have eggs, sperm or embryos in storage in Victoria and wish to move them overseas, you will need to apply to VARTA for approval. When considering an application for export, VARTA must be satisfied that the way in which the eggs, sperm or embryos will be used overseas is consistent with the way they could be used under Victorian legislation. Additionally, you need to contact the fertility clinic where they are stored to arrange transport to another country.
Getting information about treatment overseas
Before making a decision about treatment overseas, it is important to seek as much information as possible about the treatment practices in the country you have chosen. There’s a good list of questions to ask doctors and clinics here.
If you are accessing donor or surrogate treatment, VARTA recommends intended parents ask agencies for information about the surrogate/donor, including medical history, and whether contact and/or information exchange between the surrogate/donor and the parent(s)/child is possible. We also recommend making a written agreement about what information will be provided about the surrogate/donor and how future contact might be arranged.
Having treatment after your partner has died
Posthumous use of your partner’s gametes (eggs or sperm), or an embryo formed from their gametes is possible in some circumstances. Under Victorian legislation, there are a number of requirements that must be met before you can use your partner’s gametes, or an embryo formed from their gametes after your partner's death.
- The treatment procedure can only be carried out on a deceased person’s partner. In the case of a deceased woman, a male partner may be able to use her eggs or an embryo formed using her eggs, in the context of a surrogacy arrangement.
- The deceased person must have provided written consent for their gametes or an embryo formed from their gametes to be used in a treatment procedure after their death.
- The Patient Review Panel (PRP) must approve the use of the gametes or embryo. When the PRP is considering an application for posthumous use, the possible impact on the child to be born as a result of this treatment procedure is a main consideration. The panel also considers available research on the outcomes for children conceived after the death of one of their parents.
- The person undergoing the treatment procedure must receive counselling.
Helpful resources & support
Cross-Border Reproductive Care – Patient & physician prompters
"We decided to do anonymous egg donation in Spain. Although anonymous egg donation worked for us; with everything we know now we probably would have done things differently. Knowing that your child won't have access to half their genetic history is something you really need to think about". Adam