The Irish Government has approved amendments to legally recognise children born via domestic altruistic surrogacy, and international surrogacy arrangements.
The text of the amended Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022 now includes provisions for the regulation of surrogacy arrangements, past and future, the Department of Health announced. The proposed legislation will also introduce regulation in Ireland for gamete and embryo donation for fertility treatment and research, pre-implantations genetic testing (PGT), posthumous conception, and stem cell research.
'This amending legislation will protect the rights and safety of children, their parents and all those involved in a surrogacy arrangement. Having met many of them, I know how long they've fought for this progress. I'm now referring the legislation to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and believe we will make further headway in January (2024)' said Minister for Health Stephen Donnelly, who is leading the Bill.
Currently in Irish law, when a child is born via surrogacy the birth mother is recognised as the mother and only the genetic father can apply for legal parentage rights. There is no route for parenthood of other intended parents to be recognised. This has led to cases in the High Court (see BioNews 1163) where the genetic mother of a son born via international surrogacy was asking to be recognised as the legal parent, because the genetic father and only allowed legally-recognised parent was ill with cancer.
While also recognising legal parentage, the new bill, led by the Department of Health, will establish a National Surrogacy register for children born through surrogacy, as well as an Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority, to regulate a wide range of fertility practices.
The previous version of the Bill, published in early 2022, did not include any provisions for recognition of parents in international surrogacy arrangements or parents from retrospective arrangements. However, this was amended following lobbying by affected individuals.
'As another Christmas approaches, many parents are reminded that another milestone will pass and we are still legal strangers to our children due to the current lack of surrogacy legislation in Ireland' said Ciara Merrigan, co-founder of Irish Families Through Surrogacy. 'We are hopeful that this Christmas is the last where our children will be unequal to other Irish children, simply because of the way in which they were born.'