NHMRC releases updated assisted reproductive technology guidelines

Summary media release information

20 April 2017
Media Release
Contact for further information: 

NHMRC Media Team

M: 0422 008 512

E: media@nhmrc.gov.au 

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) today released the Ethical guidelines on the use of assisted reproductive technology in clinical practice and research, 2017 (ART guidelines).

This update replaces the 2007 ART guidelines and provides contemporary ethical guidance for the conduct of ART in the clinical setting.

The ART guidelines articulate ethical principles and, when read in conjunction with federal and state or territory legislation, create a robust framework for the conduct of ART in Australia.

The revised guidelines are developed around a set of guiding principles, with practical advice and examples on how to apply and use these principles in the clinical setting.

The ART guidelines consider an individual’s circumstances and the tailoring of information, counselling and consent processes to each individual or couple considering involvement in ART activities. This is paramount for the ethical conduct of ART. 

‘These guidelines promote current practice and community sentiment that ART activities will be conducted in a manner that shows respect, minimises potential harms and supports the ongoing wellbeing of all parties, including persons born as a result of ART,’ said NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso AO.

‘The guiding principles also support informed decision-making, fair and reasonable access to ART services and the use of effective and efficient practices.’

The revision of the ART guidelines was overseen by the Australian Health Ethics Committee (AHEC), with advice from an expert working committee. The working committee comprised of members with relevant knowledge and expertise in ethics, reproductive technology, reproductive law and regulation, religion and consumer issues.

Two rounds of public consultation informed the development of the ART guidelines and addressed a number of complex ethical issues including:

  • the management of expectations of consumers of ART services and the requirements for informed consent
  • the information needs of individual consumers and their access to appropriate counselling services
  • sex selection for non-medical purposes
  • surrogacy
  • gamete and embryo donation
  • preimplantation genetic screening.

AHEC has also identified a number of issues that require further consideration. These are issues that are outside of the scope of the ART guidelines, are issues identified in the ART guidelines as requiring further community discussion, or are on the horizon and may require consideration in the future.

A summary of the major revisions is available on the NHMRC website.