Monash Bioethics Review

, Volume 35, Issue 1–4, pp 36–49 | Cite as

Infertilitism: unjustified discrimination of assisted reproduction patients

  • Ryan TonkensEmail author
Original Article


Current law in Victoria, Australia requires that all prospective assisted reproduction patients provide a criminal background check and child protection order check prior to being eligible for treatment. These presumptions against treatment stipulated in the Assisted Reproductive Treatment Act ($FILE/08-076a.pdf, 2008) are discriminatory against all people that are infertile. Requiring assistance in founding a family says nothing about whether someone will be a minimally decent parent to their (future) child. The most plausible justifications for this differential treatment of family builders that require assistance are unsound. The wellbeing of the resulting child is something that the prospective patient(s) should be presumed to have at heart, as this is the default assumption with other kinds of family builders that do not require assistance. That assisted reproduction treatment is publicly funded does not mean that the state is thereby justified in putting moral conditions on access to treatment. As we should not accept discriminatory laws, especially about practices that are of fundamental importance to the lives of citizens, the presumptions against treatment stipulated in ARTA should be eradicated.


Assisted human reproduction Discrimination Infertilitism Parental licensing Presumptions against treatment 


  1. Botterell, A., and C. McLeod. 2015. Can a right to reproduce justify the status quo on parental licensing? In Permissible Progeny?: The Morality of Procreation and Parenting, ed. S. Hannan, S. Brennan, and R. Vernon, 184–207. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ethics Committee of the American Society for Reproductive Medicine. 2013. Child-rearing ability and the provision of fertility services: A committee opinion. Fertility and Sterility 2013 (100): 50–53.Google Scholar
  3. Golombok, S., et al. 2009. Parent-child relationships and the psychological well-being of 18-year-old adolescents conceived by in vitro fertilisation. Human Fertility 12 (2): 63–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Halliday, J., et al. 2014. Comparing indicators of health and development of singleton young adults conceived with and without assisted reproductive technology. Fertility and Sterility 101 (4): 1055–1063.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Jackson, E. 2002. Conception and the irrelevance of the welfare principle. The Modern Law Review 65 (2): 176–203.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. LaFollette, H. 2010. Licensing parents revisited. Journal of Applied Philosophy 27 (4): 327–343.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Lippert-Rasmussen, K. 2014. Born free and equal?: A philosophical inquiry into the nature of discrimination. Oxford: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Swanton, C. 2003. Virtue ethics: A pluralistic view. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Thompson, K., and R. McDougall. 2015. Restricting access to ART on the basis of criminal record. Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 12 (3): 511–520.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Monash University 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Monash Bioethics CentreMonash UniversityClaytonAustralia

Personalised recommendations