The Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology (ACART) has completed stage one of its consultation with New Zealanders to help inform policy on the use of fertility treatment in the event that a loved one dies.
‘Written in 2000, the current guidelines haven’t kept up with technology. The existing Guidelines for the Storage, Use, and Disposal of Sperm from a Deceased Man don’t address a number of the fertility treatment options that are now possible, including the use of eggs that have been frozen prior to a woman’s death,’ says ACART’s Acting Chair Dr Kathleen Logan.
‘We want to ensure our policy is consistent and there is clarity in the way that we deal with the very rare requests for the posthumous use of sperm, eggs and embryos.
‘We received 68 submissions to the first consultation. Overall, those who shared their views with the Committee acknowledged there could be circumstances under which it was acceptable to allow posthumous retrieval and/or use of gametes (eggs and sperm), but that it is an ethically complex area with many factors to consider, particularly consent.
‘Children and young people make up a quarter of the population and their voices should be heard on matters that affect them. We canvassed the views of young people on this issue in a youth engagement exercise, and found they were extremely interested and thought carefully about the topic and the surrounding ethical issues,’ says Dr Logan.
It’s important to note that ACART has not taken a preliminary position on the issues raised in the consultation document. A second phase of consultation will occur when a revised draft guideline has been developed at which point ACART will again welcome feedback from anyone interested in this issue.
The analysis of the submissions are available on the ACART website.
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 who can explain the perspectives of Māori, legal, human reproductive research, ethics, disability, consumer, children, and lay-people..
ACART has two key functions:
- to provide independent advice to the Minister of Health
- 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:
- the application and health outcomes of assisted reproductive procedures and established procedures
- developments in human reproductive research.
For more information visit the ACART website.