The weird, unscrutinised world of the NSW Greens

It will be one of the greatest carve-ups the country has ever seen – an election which is nothing other than a plebiscite on the uselessness of a government which even its own members find embarrassing. The polls don’t suggest NSW Labor is in trouble. They suggest NSW is in so much trouble that it might lose seats which don’t even exist yet.

The galvanising effect of this seething dislike for NSW Labor is that third parties such as the Greens will be an irrelevance in the result. There will be no hung parliament after March 26. Even if people still don’t know much about Barry O’Farrell or his policies, they will vote in their droves for the Libs. This election is purely about knocking off the ALP.

There are just two seats where the Greens are expected to trouble Labor or triumph over Labor. They’re Marrickville, held by deputy premier and health minister Carmel Tebbutt, and Balmain, held by education minister Verity Firth.

Embryo swap mother of all mix-ups

Carolyn and Sean Savage were on their fourth round of IVF when they discovered she was pregnant - with another couple's child. Emma Brockes talks to them about what happened next.

In some US states, Carolyn Savage would be called the ''natural mother''. In others she is known as the ''birth mother''. The fertility industry generally refers to her as a ''gestational carrier'', a term she finds abhorrent. It's a complicated situation. In February 2009, while undergoing IVF, Savage was mistakenly implanted with the fertilised egg of another couple. She carried the baby to term and, after giving birth, handed him over to his ''genetic parents''. If she doesn't know exactly what she is to 18-month-old Logan, she does know this: ''I took him from 12 cells to a living, breathing human being.'' The 41-year-old pauses. ''That's a big deal.''

Same-sex couple's quins on parade

An Australian lesbian couple who beat odds of more than one in 60 million when they conceived quintuplets without IVF, have introduced their babies to the world in a magazine photo spread.

The two boys and three girls - named Noah, Charlie, Eireann, Evie and Abby - were born in Brisbane prematurely at 26 weeks on January 2, weighing between 830 grams and 905 grams, with a team of 25 hospital staff delivering them by caesarean.

The two mums, Melissa Keevers and Rosemary Nolan, were not able to hold the quins for the first week as they were taken to intensive care and placed in separate incubators. Doctors have not yet given the couple a date when they can take the babies to their Brisbane home.

IVF parents travel overseas to pick baby's sex

A LEADING IVF clinic is helping clients choose the sex of their baby by sending them to an overseas clinic it co-owns, avoiding Australian rules which allow the practice only for medical reasons.

Sydney IVF, which has several clinics in NSW as well as in Canberra, Perth and Tasmania, is part-owner of Superior ART, a Thai clinic that will provide IVF for ''family balancing'' - when families with children of one gender are seeking another child of the opposite sex.

It costs $11,000 including flights and accommodation, a spokesman for Sydney IVF said.

Hobart euthanasia clinic plan

TASMANIA could have the first euthanasia clinic in the country under plans announced yesterday to take advantage of proposed legislation.

Speaking from Switzerland, euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke announced plans to open a clinic in Hobart this year.

Premier Lara Giddings and Greens leader Nick McKim will jointly sponsor a private members' bill supporting voluntary euthanasia this year.

Dr Nitschke said the McKim- Giddings bill was likely to lead to Australia's first state-based euthanasia legislation.

Abortion law reform is still unfinished business

Australian women do not, in law, have a right to choose in any state other than the ACT, and Victoria (if they are not more than 24 weeks pregnant) and - in a more compromised fashion and only up to 20 weeks pregnancy - Western Australia.

I want to be really clear about this. In most states, including the populous states of Queensland and NSW, women do NOT have a right to choose. They are not lawfully empowered to decide for themselves if they will  continue or terminate their pregnancy. Instead, the law places the decision in the hands of one or even two doctors. In all places but Victoria and the ACT, all or part of the law governing abortion is found in the crimes act or criminal code. In Queensland and NSW it appears in a near identical form to that found in an 1861 English statute, reformed long ago in that country. That wording specifies that abortion is a crime punishable by jail.

Lots to celebrate, still a long way to go

Women have made some pretty incredible gains in the 21 years since Carmen Lawrence became the first woman premier in Australia.  Since then there have been women premiers in every state except South Australia (it seems that for Mike Rann no women are eligible for promotion in his boys-club cabinet)  and we now have women leading Queensland, NSW and Tasmania, along with both a woman Prime Minister and Governor-General.

Labor’s gay split not much more than papal bull

In the Weekend Australian, Dennis Shanahan indignantly denies the contention in the Melbourne Age that “concerns over gay marriage have been fomented by the Catholic Right”.

It is true, he concedes, that all those who have been frothing at the mouth over the issue, including of course Shanahan himself, merit that description - but hey, there are some right-wing Catholics who haven’t gone hysterical, and there are some Labor lefties who don’t like being upstaged by the Greens. So it really is a deeply serious debate of fundamental importance to Julia Gillard and her government.

Well that’s one way of looking at it; the other is to recognise that it is a colossal beat-up by the increasingly rabid Murdoch press, and in particular by the die-in-a-ditch conservatives of The Australian.