June 4th 2005

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Schapelle Corby and Australia's drugs problem

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Alexander Downer - a field-marshal's baton in his knapsack?

ENERGY AND PRIMARY INDUSTRY: Day of biofuels has arrived

SCHOOLS: Teaching values and building character

AUSTRALIAN LABOR PARTY: Behind the branch-stacking allegations

IN VITRO FERTILISATION: The games bureaucrats play (at our expense)

SOCIETY: Too many abortions, according to survey

CIVILIZATION: Christian foundations of the rule of law

DEVELOPMENT: Micro-credit - an antidote to poverty and political extremism

CHINA-TAIWAN: China double-crosses Taiwan over WHO

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Fools rush in / Shonky lending practices / Pinning the tail on the donkey / Vietnam: decadence now / Mother, I never knew you

Ho Chi Minh: the man and the myth (letter)

Electronic referenda (letter)

Bali and the Indonesian tsunami victims (letter)

Brisbane-Melbourne trunk rail route (letter)

Second thoughts on Labor Split conference (letter)

CINEMA: Finale in the bunker - The Downfall

Malice In Media Land, by David Flint

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The games bureaucrats play (at our expense)

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, June 4, 2005
Despite going through the motions of seeking public opinion, the Victorian Law Reform Commission is bent on pursuing its own radical agenda to promote IVF access to singles and lesbians, writes Bill Muehlenberg.

A new government paper on assisted reproductive technologies (ART) is a great example of how taxpayers are being fleeced while activist agendas are being pursued.

The position paper, Assisted Reproductive Technology and Adoption: Position Paper One, just released by the Victorian Law Reform Commission (VLRC), is meant to be an objective look at options for law reform concerning such things as ART, IVF, and who gets access to these expensive, and taxpayer-subsidised, technologies.

It is the result of research undertaken by the commission, and, in theory, public input. Its recommendations have been "informed by extensive public consultation, roundtables and the 243 submissions received" in response to an earlier consultation paper.

In other words, the public comment requested last year was meant to feature largely in this, the first of three position papers.

Yet, as many of us feared, this paper merely confirms the prejudices of the VLRC and the predetermined agenda that has always been behind this process.

Stated simply, these commissioners want to radically overhaul our legislation, and especially open IVF access to singles and lesbians.

While ordinary Victorians would barely have been aware that this process has been going on, the activities of the commission were being heavily promoted within the homosexual community.

But surveys of community views on this matter have continually shown opposition to such proposals, and one suspects that the majority of those making submissions were also alarmed. As one article in the homosexual press admits, "submissions in favour of change were vastly outnumbered by homophobes claiming that it is immoral for same-sex couples to become parents."

But this commission and its position paper are certainly not about reflecting the majority viewpoint. The paper admits that the "commission received a significant number of submissions from people opposed to the use of ART by anyone other than married couples".

Yet it says, "The commission has concluded that the marital status requirement is not only inconsistent with the principle of non-discrimination, but it also bears no relationship to the health and well-being of children."

Ignoring majority view

There you have it: "Butt out, Victoria. We are not interested in what you have to say on the matter." Which raises the obvious question: why bother with an inquiry if you are simply going to ignore the majority view in the first place?

Much of the case put forward by the VLRC is based on the work of Dr Ruth McNair, a lesbian activist who has been fighting for these causes for years. The commission had Dr McNair write an occasional paper on this issue, and then constantly refers to the paper as the authoritative document in the debate.

One might as well say that there will be a government review of smoking, and the main resource that the committee will rely on is a position paper put out by the tobacco industry.

Not only does the VLRC ignore the concerns of most Victorians, but it totally ignores the weight of social science research. Consider this remark: "It is not family structure that determines emotional, social and psychological outcomes for children, but rather the quality of family processes and relationships." The findings of Dr McNair are then immediately cited.

Chairperson Marcia Neave echoed these thoughts in a recent TV interview, saying that love is all that matters, not family structure.

Yet, according to the social-science evidence, such thinking is overwhelmingly wrong. More than 10,000 international social science studies from the past 35 years have made one point crystal clear: family structure does matter, and matters more that anything else in terms of the well-being of the child.

Generally speaking, children raised in biological two-parent families, cemented by marriage, do much better by every social indicator. The research is in, and the debate is largely over, at least overseas. But this massive body of evidence is simply ignored in favor of the activists' agenda.

Yet the position paper keeps talking about how the best interests of the child should be paramount. It even admits that the well-being of children was the "predominant concern expressed" by members of the public. I would guess that most of this concern for the well-being of children was premised on the belief that it is the right of every child to have his or her own biological mother and father.

Yet such concerns are given short shrift here. The VLRC seems to be simply going through the motions of seeking public opinion when it already has its mind made up. And it does not mind wasting our tax dollars in the process.

  • Bill Muehlenberg is national vice-president of the Australian Family Association.

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