19 Dec 2008

Fertility experts back surplus embryos idea

7:00 pm on 19 December 2008

Fertility experts say the option of donating surplus frozen embryos to research will give parents more choice.

An independent health advisory board has recommended to Health Minister Tony Ryall that he consider making it an option for parents.

The medical director of Fertility Associates, Mary Birdsall, says that if patients have extra frozen embryos and do not want to use them to have another child, their only choice is to donate them to another couple or discard them.

Dr Birdsall says some parents would be particularly interested in donating embryos to medical research if they knew the research might help advance fertility treatment techniques.

But the group Right to Life is outraged at the idea, labelling it unethical and immoral.

Sylvia Rumball, who chairs the Advisory Committee on Assisted Reproductive Technology, says that 18 months ago the committee recommended to then-health minister Pete Hodgson that parents should be allowed to donate embryos for research.

Mr Ryall says the issue will need a considerable amount of thought and advice, and he plans to address it early next year.