Feedback sought on draft revisions to ethical guidelines for assisted reproductive technology

Summary media release information

23 July 2015
NHMRC Media Release
Contact for further information: 
NHMRC Media Team - 0422 008 512 |

The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) has today opened public consultation on draft changes to the clinical practice section of the Ethical Guidelines on the Use of Assisted Reproductive Technology in Clinical Practice and Research, 2007

Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) is the application of laboratory or clinical techniques to human eggs, sperm or embryos for the purposes of reproduction. Compliance with these guidelines is a key part of accreditation for all Australian ART clinics. 

The draft guidelines provide ethical guidance on issues such as:

  • the use and storage of human eggs, sperm and embryos
  • situations such as surrogacy, preimplantation genetic testing, the collection and use of eggs and sperm from persons who are deceased or dying, and the use of stored eggs, sperm or embryos after a person has died
  • information giving, counselling and consent requirements.

Key draft changes to the guidelines include:

  • clearer identification of the ethical principles relevant to the clinical practice of ART and guidance for the application of these principles
  • content updates to reflect changes in technology and community sentiment
  • streamlining the document to make it clearer and easier to read.

The revisions were informed by feedback received during a public consultation on the guidelines, conducted last year.  

Feedback is sought on the entire content of the draft guidelines. The following issues have been highlighted for specific comment:  

  • sex selection for non-medical purposes
  • compensation of Australian women for the reproductive effort and risks associated with donating their eggs
  • establishment of an Australian donor egg bank.

NHMRC CEO Professor Anne Kelso said, “As Assisted Reproductive Technology becomes more sophisticated, it is important that NHMRC continues to provide guidance that takes into account changes in technology and community sentiment.”

“Public consultation is an important part of the development of all NHMRC guidelines, and it is especially valuable in this field where our guidance has implications for many families around Australia.”

The review of the guidelines is being overseen by the Australian Health Ethics Committee, with advice from NHMRC’s ART Working Committee. Membership of this working committee includes experts in ethics, law, religion, reproductive technology and consumer issues.

The deadline for submissions to the public consultation is 17 September 2015. Further information is available on the NHMRC Public Consultation website.