Lesbians are not amused at the clamour over rights to donor sperm. DOUG CONWAY reports.
SYDNEY The Deputy Prime Minister, Tim Fischer, apparently fears there could be a sperm shortage in Australia, lesbians say, and Queensland's health minister thinks lesbians are capable of producing a nazistyle "super race." Both standpoints have amused gay women, but they are less than amused at the vociferous opposition to a Que ensland lesbian who has won her battle for the right to access donor sperrn. They say the clamour sparked by a Queensland Anti-Discrimination Board ruling in her favour is unfair, and smacks of ingrained disapproval of perceived gay lifestyles. Gays are every bit as likely as heterosexuals to be good parents, they argue. Lesbians pay taxes too, so should have the same access to fertility services as a "traditional" couple of a man and woman experiencing problems reproducing. Medicare benefits may be withdrawn for lesbians seeking access to donor sperm to start a family, according to federal Health Minister Michael Wooldridge, who says: "I don't think you can look at these things in a moral vacuum." Queensland Health Minister Mike Horan wants a ban, and has compared lesbians' use of fertility clinics to Hitler's desire to create a "super race." Mr Fischer says society should tolerate gay and lesbian couples but should not have to 'subsidise their child-bearing whim.' He says the ruling paves the way for fertile women to use fertility prograrnines, putting pressure on scarce resources. "Tim Fischer is wrong to say the decision will take resources away from infertile women, because the ruling was about sperm donor prograrnmes and not IVF [in vitro fertitisation," said Tasmanian Gay and Lesbian Rights Group spokeswoman Lavinia Savell. "Mr Fischer seems to suggest we're talking about a finite resource," says Stevie Clayton of Sydney's Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby, "but there's no shortage of sperm in Australia. "All Australians should have the same access to health services, including fertuity services, without regard to irrelevant factors such as sex, race and marital status." Describing Mr Horan's comnients as "bizarre logic," Stevie Clayton added: "It's interesting that he thinks lesbians are capable of producing a super race." 'Does he think they're going to have lesbian clones?" asked Friends of Lesbians And Gays convener Heather Homtvedt in Sydney. "Someone ought to enlighten him. The majority of homosexuals are brought up by heterosexuals." In Sydney, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital's fertility clinic admitted it could not give lesbians access to its sperm bank because it had to honour a comniitment to donors that they would be assisting infertile couples. The 23-year-old Queenslander at the centre of the row was initially refused access to donor sperm on the grounds that there was no medical reason for her to need fertility services. AAP