Coalition Group calls for legal regulation of Assisted Human Reproduction in Ireland

Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Conor O' Mahony has expressed concern over the fact that surrogacy is "entirely unregulated in Irish law".


The new Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Coalition Group have welcomed the recent Report by Prof. Conor O’Mahony, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection on the rights of the child in relation to donor assisted human reproduction. The report, which was published last month, recommends practical legal solutions to uphold the rights and best interests of children including their right to family life, identity and non-discrimination.  The report will likely be used to inform the enactment of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017.

The report recognises the reality of AHR treatment, which often involves accessing services abroad, and expresses concern with the lack of regulation in this area of law. O’Mahony notes that “Ireland’s failure to regulate surrogacy to date has had negative consequences for Irish families, children and parents who have been left in vulnerable legal positions for lengthy periods of time due to the failure of the Oireachtas to legislate to address their status,” and calls for “an acceptance of the reality of surrogacy as an international phenomenon”.

The report emphasises that the best interests of the child should be determined on a case-by-case basis, rather than on hypothetical scenarios of unidentified children. In focusing on the real-life experiences of children who have been born through AHR, there is the potential for children to establish a legal parental relationship with their intended parents.

The AHR Coalition Group is made up of organisations and support groups representing people who have, or are planning to, access AHR treatment, including single people, LGBTQ+ couples, disabled people and couples with health or fertility conditions. The members currently include LGBT Ireland, Equality for Children, the National Infertility Support and Information Group, Rainbow Families Equality Network, Irish Gay Dads and Independent Living Movement Ireland. The primary objective of the Group is to inform the development of laws or policies pertaining to AHR from the perspective of the human rights and equality of children conceived using AHR, their intended parents and families.

O’Mahony’s report has been warmly received by the Coalition Group, who are “calling on the Government to ensure no time is wasted in implementing the recommendations”. The Group is also calling on the government to consider the recommendations by the Oireachtas Committee for Health in relation to the General Scheme of Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017.

Equality for Children Chairperson Elaine Cohalan encouraged the Government “to take on board Professor O’ Mahony’s advice to build on the learning from other jurisdictions by publishing AHR legislation that meets the highest international standards, protects all parties involved and makes provisions for both domestic and international surrogacy”.

Cohalan emphasised the importance of legal recognition for parents, including the retrospective declaration of parentage in cases of AHR; “our organisations support families who have been living in legal limbo for years, with only one parent recognised. This can have far-reaching consequences for children and their parents including impacting on citizenship rights, healthcare, childcare, educational provisions, social welfare, inheritance and much more”.

Ms Gillian Keegan, representing the National Infertility Support and Information Group, expressed similar sentiments, stating that “the Government should take on board Professor O’ Mahony’s advice in relation to applying learnings from other jurisdictions, providing adequate protection for all parents and children regardless of how, when or where they were conceived, ensuring the intended mother is the legal mother from birth and that provisions are made for both domestic and international surrogacy”.

Equality for Children recently launched ‘Rainbow Families: a Series on LGBT+ Parental Rights’ in partnership with OUTlaw Network. This is a four-part series of lunchtime events taking place every Wednesday in May which will discuss topics including AHR for LGBTQ+ families. For more information see here.

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