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John McBain vs State of Victoria
Transcript of John McBain vs State of Victoria
Facts Of the Case
Dr John McBain, a Melbourne gynaecologist specialising in reproductive technology, was consulted by Ms Leesa Meldrum, a single woman wishing to conceive through (IVF) using donor sperm. Leesa was prohibited by Victorian law from receiving IVF treatment, as she was single. Dr McBain then commenced proceedings seeking a declaration that provisions of the Victorian legislation were inconsistent with the Sex Discrimination Act.
Groups that had their rights infringed
Single women who wanted IVF, in this case representing them was Leesa Meldrum.
Rights that were infringed
Article 1- All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
Inconsistent with section 22 of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984
How were they Infringed?
The right was infringed by not complying with each of these articles. Specifically Single women were being discriminated against and denied the right to freely participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the art and to share in scientific advancement (IVF).
Who encouraged Leesa?
Dr McBain encouraged Leesa Meldrum to further this case and take it to court as she was interested in the IVF program but was unable to access it due to the fact that she was a single woman.
What issues were in question?
Access to fertility services in Victoria is restricted by marital status and medical need
The Sex Discrimination Act prohibits discrimination on the ground of marital status, but not on the basis of medical need.
What laws existed at the time of the case?
Victorian Infertility Treatment Act 1995 were inconsistent with section 22 of the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act 1984
What group had opposing Views on the case?
The State of Victoria had opposing views as the believed that only IVF may only be carried out on a woman who is married or 'living with a man in a de facto relationship'. Thus, married women who are separated from their husbands are excluded from treatment, as are single and lesbian women.
What was the outcome of the case?
Justice Sundberg of the Federal Court of Australia concluded that the Victorian legislation infringed the prohibition on discrimination found in section 22 of the Sex Discrimination Act. This eliminated any marriage requirement, but did not clearly address the medical needs requirement.
How did the decision affect the individual/group concerned?
Leesa Meldrum and single women (group concerned) were now allowed to use the IVF program allowing them to create a family.
How did the decision impact other groups or individuals
Same sex couples