Abbott launches sweeping review of IVF ethics

THE ethical rules governing the use of egg and sperm donations, embryos, surrogacy and sex selection for IVF patients could soon be overhauled, with a sweeping review underway.

Officially opened for consultation last week, the Abbott government review of the ethical guidelines for "assisted reproductive technology" will close for submissions in late April.

The review will look at controversial ethical aspects of the use of human embryos, egg and sperm donations, among a wide range of other uses of the technology.

Run by the National Health and Medical Research Council, the review will ask the IVF industry, community and ethics groups about "gaps" in the existing guidelines, last updated in 2007.

The review will be led by a host of IVF industry scientists and medical practitioners, under chairman Ian Olver, chief executive of the Cancer Council of Australia.

It will specifically cover the ethical conundrums facing IVF patients and doctors, from access to information on donors to the children born through IVF to the use of embryos in research.

The review further opens the door to potential changes to rules surrounding non-medical sex selection, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis practices and compensation for surrogate mothers.

While the research council has not proposed any specific changes, it launched the review to "determine the usefulness" of the current guidelines, and develop new rules surrounding ART in Australia.

Submissions to the review are open until April 30.