Some children could legally have three or more parents if the Law Reform Commission in the Australian state of Victoria has its way. It has recommended that the state’s adoption law be amended “to permit more than two people to be recognised as the legal parents of a child”. Most of the commission’s proposals are intended to take same-sex parenting into account. “We are recommending changes to the Adoption Act so that people who are undertaking a parenting role are legally recognised and legally responsible,” says the chairperson of the commission, Professor Marcia Neave. “This means that non-birth mothers will be liable for child support if they leave the relationship and their children will have a right to a share in their estate if they die.”
Although the notion of three parents is unconventional, to say the least, the commission feels that it should be possible for donors of sperm or eggs to be recognised as parents in addition to the birth mother and a lesbian partner. It even appears to be open to the idea of four legal parents. The notion of multiple parents is not new. Earlier this year a New Zealand committee put forward a similar proposal. The commission’s report says that the American states of Delaware, New Mexico and New Hampshire allow it in certain circumstances.
This is the second of three on the consequences of assisted reproduction. The commission’s first paper dealt with adoption and the next, to be published in 2006, will deal with surrogacy.
The new senator for the Family First party, Steve Fielding, slammed the idea of same-sex parenting. He commented that “this undermines traditional values and the traditional family unit which comprises a mother and a father. That is the ideal and the best environment in which to raise our children who are our future.”
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