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Eagle Forum Australia Alert 
Aug. 05, 2002

CEDAW Updates may be found in our Quick Topics Section under CEDAW.


ALERT Here's one way CEDAW has affected us:

Three states in Australia, including Victoria, have legislation restricting IVF to infertile married couples or de facto heterosexual couples who have been living together for at least two years.

A single woman, Lisa Meldrum, who had had several relationships but had failed to become pregnant in the usual way, applied to have IVF. She said it was inconvenient for her to travel to New South Wales to have the treatment (NSW has no law against IVF for singles). Her doctor, John McBain, appealed to the Federal Court against Victoria's law restricting IVF to marrieds. The basis of the appeal was that the Victorian law was in breach of the Federal Sex Discrimination Act which implemented CEDAW. McBain won the appeal, the Victorian government did not defend their own law (because now we have a Labor government sympathetic to feminists and lesbians who think it is ok for single women to have babies). Mr. Justice Sundberg of the Federal Court found in favour of McBain/Meldrum.

The Catholic Bishops of Australia and the Australian Family Association appealed the Sundberg decision to our High Court (equivalent to the US Supreme Court) and after months of deliberation, the High Court ruled that the Catholic Bishops and the AFA had no standing in the case as they were not parties to the original appeal and were not affected by the decision. The High Court made no ruling on the Sundberg decision itself as so far no one other than the Catholic Bishops and the AFA have appealed against Sundberg, and neither had been granted standing.

Mr. Ellicott, our federal Attorney General in 1980 who had signed CEDAW on behalf of Australia in Copenhagen (when Malcolm Fraser was our Prime Minister and Judy Carter signed on behalf of the USA) was the lawyer acting for the Catholic Bishops. His brief was that when the Treaty was signed, CEDAW and the Sex Discrimination Act which implemented it in Australia, were intended to apply to discrimination in employment and in the provision of goods and services, e.g. jobs and rental properties, and it was not intended to apply to the deliberate creation of single-mother families. Howard has promised to enact legislation to support this interpretation, but that only brings the issue back to the states, three of which have laws they don't bother to defend, and the other states don't regulate IVF for singles at all. And anyway Howard may not be able to get the legislation through our Senate - he doesn't have the numbers there.

This is just one example of how CEDAW and its implementing legislation can be interpreted in ways damaging to our concept of marriage and family, and to taxpayers for that matter. While taxpayers are generous in supporting mothers who are single because they are unmarried and deserted, widowed or divorced, it is quite a different matter deliberately creating single-motherhood. Furthermore, while taxpayers are willing to pay that portion of IVF which is funded through Medicare for couples who are infertile, it is quite another matter to pay for IVF for women who are NOT infertile (although Lisa Meldrum probably was) like lesbians who claim they are not medically infertile but are "socially" infertile because they don't want to have relationships with men.

A sad postscript: A lesbian couple who had a child through IVF, found that the father (a gay donor) wanted to see his son on weekends, birthdays etc. They fought this in the courts saying he had signed an agreement that he would not ask for visiting rights. They lost in the Family Court which found that the father had some right to see his son. One of the lesbians then killed the boy and killed herself. She and her partner had apparently had a row the previous night, it is not clear what happened to her partner, but she may have left. This has just happened in Melbourne. (reported in the Herald Sun, 2 August 2002).

If the US ratifies CEDAW, your judges will have a picnic interpreting it in all sorts of novel ways.

from: Babette Francis, president, Endeavour Forum

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