The Assisted Human Reproduction Bill must be published as a matter of urgency to give legal recognition to children born through surrogacy and their families, a Fine Gael Senator has said.
Dublin South Central Senator Mary Seery Kearney said the publication of legislation on Assisted Human Reproduction must be published and debated in the Houses of Oireachtas at the earliest opportunity to put surrogacy arrangements on a legislative footing.
Senator Mary Seery Kearney said: “Currently, while the Children and Family Relations Act 2015 makes some provisions, there is a need for specific legislation to govern Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) and in particular, surrogacy. Surrogacy also remains entirely unregulated in Irish law, which currently deems the surrogate mother to be considered the legal mother of the child.
“The lack of legal provision has compounded the distress for couples on their journey to become parents and who choose to do so through surrogacy.
“Work on the drafting of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill is currently ongoing by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.
“The Bill will provide for the regulation of a range of practices including gamete and embryo donation, domestic surrogacy and provides for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for Assisted Human Reproduction.
“However, international surrogacy has been a fact in Ireland for over a decade at least. I believe that the only way forward is to provide a pathway to parentage with conditions that will meet international norms and best practice models in line with other countries.
“I believe that any legislation must take into the account recommendations made in a report by the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection on issues regarding parentage and the right to identity in donor-assisted human reproduction and surrogacy both in Ireland and internationally.
“It recommends enacting comprehensive legislation regulating surrogacy at the earliest opportunity which makes provision for both domestic and international surrogacy arrangements.
“It also states provision should be made for a pathway to parentage in respect of surrogacy arrangements which occurred before the commencement of the new legislation.
“With regard to international surrogacy, legislation should make provision for the High Court based on an application to grant a parental order to the intending parents, and nationality and citizenship to the child, where the Court has satisfied itself of a range of prescribed criteria.
“Families across Ireland need to have a very real pathway to avail of surrogacy. Their need for surrogacy arises from a number of circumstances, where there has been serious illnesses, disability and also it is availed of by same sex couples. The AHR Bill, while being promoted/sponsored by the Department of Health, also involves matters of Justice and Equality and so engages the three Ministers. The Ministers need to consult with the representative groups from across Ireland to ensure that an ethical pathway is created for those who wish to pursue parenthood via surrogacy. This long-awaited Bill will reflect what is possible and will provide a legislative and ethical framework for surrogacy arrangements which gives clarity to families.”