An Australian couple have been denied access to IVF after a court ruled it would not be in the best interests of the child.
The couple, known only as TRV and TPW, have 10 children between them but sought IVF following the death of their seven-week-old daughter from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in 2010. The couple, who plan to marry in December, wanted IVF before TRV turns 46 in September and becomes ineligible on age restrictions.
In Victoria, the Assisted Reproductive Treatment (ART) Act of 2008 dictates that all patients requesting any form of ART must undertake a Victorian Criminal (Police) Record Check and Child Protection Order (CPO) Check before starting treatment.
However, TRV previously had four of her children removed from her custody by the Department of Child Protection due to physical and psychological abuse, resulting in a 'presumption against treatment'. The couple had therefore been denied IVF by a patient review panel, prompting them to appeal to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT).
The VACT panel of three, led by Judge Pamela Jenkins, heard how there were substantial concerns specifically regarding TRV, including a history of physical and emotional abuse against her children, as well as medical and environmental neglect.
Clinical psychologist, Dr Georgina Swinburne, who assessed the couple, also concluded TRV was suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following the death of her daughter. She added, that this grief could impact on a parent's capacity to 'bond with the future child and respond to their unique needs'.
When asked by the tribunal, TRV argued she didn't see any challenges arising from the birth of another child and that there was no conflict in her current relationship. While the VCAT panel took into account positive changes in TRV's life, including her relationship with TPW, they raised concerns about her lack of insight into the experiences of her children. They added she also refused to accept any responsibility for past harm experienced by her children, and showed an inability to acknowledge parenting challenges.
The panel therefore concluded: 'There are significant and continuing risks to the welfare and interests of a child to be born to the Applicants by means of ART and at this stage the Tribunal cannot be satisfied that it is in the best interests of a child to be born for such treatment procedure to be made available'.
The ruling does not prevent the couple attempting to conceive naturally.