Only two can be par­ents

Western Suburbs Weekly - - Street Watch -

IT is cur­rently un­law­ful in Aus­tralia to use more than two peo­ple’s DNA to cre­ate an em­bryo.

But Aus­tralia may fol­low the UK’s re­cent move to al­low the cre­ation of em­bryos us­ing the DNA of two women and one man to pre­vent mi­to­chon­drial dis­ease (and other ge­netic dis­eases) from being passed by mother to child.

This raises the ques­tion: could a child legally have three par­ents? The Fam­ily Law Act does not de­fine “par­ent”. In­stead, there are cer­tain sit­u­a­tions where a per­son is pre­sumed by law to be a child’s par­ent un­less there is ev­i­dence to the con­trary.

Where chil­dren are born as a re­sult of as­sisted re­pro­duc­tive tech­nolo­gies, these sit­u­a­tions are:

1) If a wo­man is ei­ther mar­ried or in a de facto re­la­tion­ship with her part­ner at the time of the child’s ar­ti­fi­cial con­cep­tion, the wo­man and her part­ner are pre­sumed to be the child’s par­ents (re­gard­less of whether the child is not bi­o­log­i­cally the child of the wo­man and her part­ner) so long as the as­sisted re­pro­duc­tive pro­ce­dure was car­ried out with the con­sent of the wo­man or her part­ner.

2) If a man and wo­man are mar­ried, or in a de facto re­la­tion­ship, con­sent is pre­sumed un­less the con­trary is proved.

3) If a DNA donor is not in a marriage or de facto re­la­tion­ship with the birth mother, the DNA donor is not a par­ent of the child.

So Aus­tralian law as­sumes a child born as a re­sult of as­sisted or ar­ti­fi­cial con­cep­tion will have DNA from two peo­ple. If Aus­tralia went down the same path as the UK and al­lowed DNA from two women and one man to cre­ate an em­bryo, our laws would no doubt have to change and some im­por­tant ques­tions would need to be con­sid­ered in chang­ing our law to ad­dress this sit­u­a­tion.

With Simon Creek

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