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Legislation on Embryo Donation

Federal

Embryo donation is legal in all Australian states and territories. 
 
There is no federal legislation covering Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ART), but there are national Guidelines and a Code of Practice. The Guidelines were produced by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and the Code of Practice was developed by the Reproductive Technology Accreditation Committee (RTAC) of the Fertility Society of Australia. Clinics must comply with the Code of Practice and Guidelines to be accredited. In Australian states and territories that have legislation covering ART, clinics must also follow those laws. 
 
NHMRC Guidelines protect the interests of children who may be born from embryo donation: e.g. making sure that people can trace their genetic parents and siblings; limiting the number of children born to a particular donor; and encouraging careful consideration before family members donate to each other.
 
Some areas of these Guidelines, including 'on-donation' and 'directed donation', are interpreted in a number of different ways in Australian clinics so, as always, please talk to your clinic about it and contact us if you would like to ask any questions.  
 
Health Law Central also provides some information
 

State

There is no state legislation about ART in ACT, NT, QLD or TAS (although there are laws in all states about donor treatment procedures and parentage in general). Clinics in these states follow NHMRC Guidelines about storage limits for frozen embryos (which is five years with the option of extending for another period of five years). 
 
 
Please note that the following information about State ART legislation is provided in good faith and is of a general nature only. Please check with your doctor, lawyer and clinic before making any decisions.
 
 
New South Wales
NSW has the Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2007 and the Assisted Reproductive Technology Regulation 2009 which can be found here.
 
The Act and Regulation cover, among other things, the details of who can donate, how many times they can donate and how long embryos can be kept in storage. The Act and Regulation also deal with the NSW Central ART Donor Register. This central register maintains records of donors and donor births. This is voluntary for donations prior to 1 January 2010, but mandatory after this time.  
 
 
Victoria
Victoria has the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 2008 and the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Regulations 2009 that can be found here.
 
The Act covers eligibility for receiving treatment, including criminal records checks and child-protection-order checks, which are unique to Victoria at this time. The main purpose of the Act is to protect the interests of donor-conceived children.
 
How long can embryos be stored for?
Embryos can be stored for 5 years with an option of extending for another 5 years only. 
 
For further information, refer to the helpful and proactive Victorian Assisted Reproductive Treatment Authority (VARTA). Their role involves the administration of the Act, the registration of ART clinics and the approval of the import and export of donor eggs, sperm and embryos. (There are restrictions on donor embryos being moved into and out of Victoria. Applications to move embryos into or out of Victoria are considered on a case-by-case basis by the board of VARTA, at their monthly meetings.)
 
 
Western Australia
Western Australia has the Human Reproductive Technology Act 1991 and the Human Reproductive Technology Act Directions 2004. For further information, refer to the Reproductive Technology Council.
 
How long can embryos be stored for?
Under this legislation, embryos may be stored for a maximum of 10 years. Donors must consent to their identifying information being accessible to their donor offspring if requested. The Voluntary Register is a service of the WA government for donors and donor offspring.
 
 
South Australia
South Australia has the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act 1988 and the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Regulations 2010 that work in conjunction with each other. There is a donor conception register.
 
How long can embryos be stored for?
Embryos in SA can be stored for 5 years with the option of extending for another 5 years only, as per the NHMRC Guidelines. For further information, refer to the SA Council on Reproductive Technologies.
 
 
 
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