Victorian woman wins court challenge against IVF laws

21 September 2018
A Victorian woman will be able to try and conceive a child through IVF and donor sperm after successfully challenging a law that required her to obtain the consent of her estranged husband to undergo the procedure.

The woman had sought IVF through a Melbourne clinic, who advised her that under the current law in Victoria, they were unable to treat her unless she had the consent of her husband, from whom she is separated.

In a Federal Court hearing in Melbourne on Thursday this week, lawyers for the woman argued the Victorian law requiring her husband’s consent was invalid as it was inconsistent with federal sex discrimination laws.

This afternoon Justice Griffiths ordered that the woman can undergo IVF treatment without the consent of her husband.

He also found that the Victorian law, by requiring the woman obtain the consent of her estranged husband to undergo the treatment, discriminated against her on the basis of her marital status. He declared that part of the law “invalid and inoperable”.

Jennifer Kanis, social justice practice manager at Maurice Blackburn, welcomed the court’s decision, saying the woman’s case had exposed a flaw in the state’s regulations around IVF treatment.

“A separated woman should be able to make her own decisions about IVF treatment. It's absurd to require her to seek the permission of her estranged husband when a sperm donor will be used,” Ms Kanis said.

“Our client is very pleased with today’s outcome, which will mean that she can undergo IVF to try and have a baby, just like any other single woman in Victoria.

“This decision also paves the way for other Victorian women in similar circumstances to not have their former partner control their reproductive choices.”

The Victorian Government is currently reviewing its laws around assisted reproductive treatment including IVF.

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