Posthumous reproduction consultation launched

News article

03 July 2018

The Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ACART) has announced the release of a stage one consultation on policy options which could allow people to use fertility treatment in the event that one of their loved ones dies.

ACART Chairperson Gillian Ferguson says ‘the current Guidelines on the Use, Storage and Disposal of Sperm from a Deceased Man written in 2000 are out of date and do not address a number of potential fertility treatment options that are now clinically feasible and requested by the public, such as the use of eggs that have been frozen prior to a woman’s death.’

ACART is reviewing the current Guidelines on posthumous reproduction to take into account sperm, eggs and embryos, rather than just sperm, because these existing Guidelines apply only to the posthumous use of sperm that was retrieved prior to a man’s death. Relevant issues that the current Guidelines do not address include:

  • retrieval and use of eggs from a deceased woman
  • use of stored eggs, after the death of a woman
  • retrieval of sperm from a deceased man
  • retrieval and use of reproductive tissue from a deceased man or woman
  • use of stored embryos after the death of one or both of the gamete donors
  • retrieval and use of sperm or eggs from a person who has become permanently incapacitated and whose death is imminent.

ACART is proposing to expand the scope of the guidelines so that all relevant issues are covered. In particular, ACART believes that new guidelines should address the use of eggs after a woman’s death, and that the legality of retrieving gametes (sperm and eggs) from a deceased person should be clear. ACART proposes that the guidelines should also address the retrieval and use of sperm or eggs from people who are permanently incapacitated and whose death is imminent. 

‘We are seeking public feedback on the policy options and rationale for those policies. This document does not contain recommendations as we are seeking public feedback on these significant policy issues prior to developing any proposed new guidelines. In the event that there is support for revised guidelines, we will consult again publicly.’

To access the full consultation document and provide feedback, please go to Posthumous Reproduction: A review of the current Guidelines for the Storage, Use, and Disposal of Sperm from a Deceased Man to take into account gametes and embryos. The deadline for feedback is 3 September 2018.

About ACART

ACART formulates policy and provides advice to the Minister of Health on assisted reproductive technology in New Zealand. It was established under section 32 of the Human Assisted Reproductive Technology Act 2004. The Committee is made up of 10 members with Māori, legal, human reproductive research, ethics, disability, consumer, children, and layperson perspectives.

ACART has two key functions:

  1. to provide independent advice to the Minister of Health
  2. to issue guidelines and provide advice to the Ethics Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ECART) on procedures and research requiring case by case ethical approval.

ACART also monitors:

  1. the application and health outcomes of assisted reproductive procedures and established procedures
  2. developments in human reproductive research.

For more information visit the ACART website.

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