September 6, 2001
High Court delays IVF ruling
A story published today by the Australian Associated Press reports that final
arguments have been heard in the Catholic Church's challenge to in vitro fertilization (
IVF) treatment for single women, with the High Court reserving its decision.
Last year the Federal Court decided Ms.Leesa Meldrum was entitled to IVF as a marriage
requirement in Victoria conflicted with the federal Sex Discrimination Act.
But the Catholic Church launched a challenge to that decision in Canberra.
Ms. Meldrum said she found the High Court proceedings daunting, with 14 bewigged heads
at the bar table and seven judges "all because I want to become a mother".
"I feel like I'm just being persecuted, along with other single women, by the
church and obviously the government and the Attorney-General (Daryl Williams)."
Ms. Meldrum said aside from undergoing IVF treatment, she is also looking at options
such as adoption and a friend has also offered to donate her eggs.
A story published today by the Australian Associated Press reports that
Australias High Court has begun hearing the Catholic Church's challenge to a federal
court decision to allow a single woman to access in-vitro fertilization (IVF) services.
Last year the Federal Court ruled Lisa Meldrum was entitled to use IVF,
as Victorian laws stopping her because of her marital status were incompatible with the
federal Sex Discrimination Act (SDA).
The High Court has been hearing argument from David Jackson, QC, for
the Catholic Church and the federal Attorney-General on why the federal government should
now be entitled to disturb a decision that both Ms. Meldrum and the Victorian government
were happy with.
Attorney-General Daryl Williams last month joined with the Catholic
Church to give it standing to argue that the SDA does not apply to fertility treatment.
Justice Mary Gaudron said it was odd that the commonwealth was now
getting involved when it had a right to intervene in the original Federal Court case.
Justice Michael McHugh said he could not recall another case where a
state had not defended its own legislation.
Victoria is not taking part in the High Court proceedings.
A story published today by News.com.au reports that the Australian Bureau of Statistics
said increasing marital breakdown, longer life expectancy and fewer couples marrying or
re-marrying have contributed to the decline in the number of marriages.
The ABS report predicts that 29 percent of men and 23 percent of women will never
Relationships Australia NSW CEO Anne Hollonds said it has become socially acceptable to
live alone, particularly for women.
"We have a generation of young adults who have been raised to be independent and
self sufficient, both financially and emotionally," Ms Hollonds said.
"The downside is that it can be harder to make a relationship a success: you see
people with one foot in and one foot out, just in case," she said
Marriage in Australia peaked after the end of World War II but has been in decline
since the 1980s. Last year, 113,400 couples took their vows, a drop of three percent from
a decade ago, according to ABS figures.
The marriage rate for singles, aged 16 and over, has also fallen, dropping from 43 per
1000 in 1990 to 33 per 1000 last year.
Living together has become much more popular, with 71 percent of couples setting up
home before marrying, compared to 29 percent in 1980.
Couples are also marrying later. In 1980, the average marrying couple was 26 for men
and 23 for women. The average groom is now 30 and the bride, 28.
"The biggest trend is the perception that people are staying single, so the
products are being given a social appeal based around friends and freedom. By watching
such television ads and series, it may prove that people see being single as their normal
way of life." said Dr. Stephen Dann, a marketing expert from Griffith University
Psychologist Dr. Kerry Hempenstall, from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology,
said the negative side effects of being single, such as depression, may fade as more
people voluntarily choose not to wed. But, he warns, there are some disadvantages for
singles later in life because the majority of people will still marry.
It has been widely documented, for example, that married men with children tend to live
longer and enjoy better health than single men.