Only two can be parents
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.