Meeting of Committee on Surrogacy suspended due to “disrespectful” behaviour

Following several disruptions, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on International Surrogacy was suspended because of personal attacks.

A split screen of two members of the Committee on International Surrogacy. On the left is Senator Lynne Ruane wearing a salmon coloured suit with a mauve top. On the right, Senator Sharon Keogan wearing a purple blazer with a bright pink blouse.
Image: @senator_lynn_ruane/@senatorsharonkeogan via Instagram

Yesterday’s meeting of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on International Surrogacy was suspended on two separate occasions due to “disrespectful” and disruptive behaviour.

The committee has been convened to consider and make recommendations on measures to address issues arising from international surrogacy, with a view to creating legislation to govern the practice.

On the second day of meetings, the committee met to hear from parents who have experienced international surrogacy and representative groups. 

After hearing from Gearóid Kenny Moore, a representative for Irish Gay Dads and Equality for Children, Senator Lynne Ruane began her address by thanking him as well as other speakers from Irish Families Through Surrogacy.
She recognised the “huge emotional toll” that sharing their testimonies required. She continued saying, “I hope that in the giving of yourself that we see change in this area”.

She then called for members of the committee to critically engage with the process and not to let their decisions be guided by personal “bigotry or belief”, stating, “They’re two different things – opposition, critically engaging.”

Taking umbrage with Senator Ruane’s statement, Senator Sharon Keogan interrupted saying, “ I absolutely object to that word, absolutely because I am certainly not.” To which Senator Ruane replied, “I think you’d find you are, and I think you should also check your Christian values… respect, compassion, love”.

She concluded by asserting that Senator Keogan was “crude” and “cold”. A debate erupted about how personal the attacks were and how personal the interrogation of the speakers had been.

After issuing a warning that she would suspend the meeting’s chair, Deputy Jennifer Whitmore, formally suspended the proceedings when Senator Keogan turned to Mr Kenny Moore saying “Gearóid you’re extremely lucky to be here today. You don’t know how lucky you are to be here today.”

Earlier in the day, Senator Keogan had stated, ”I whole-heartedly object to the commercialisation of the human child and the regulation of women to the status of simply incubators or ‘wombs for hire’, irrespective of whether you’re heterosexual, single, lesbian, gay or Trans.

“Surrogacy is harmful, it’s exploitative and unethical. I don’t believe it is everyone’s right to have a child. It is a privilege to give birth and it can be dangerous even to those with the best medical attention.”

After discussing her beliefs on the importance of retaining the birth mother’s name on birth certificates, she concluded by saying, “We shouldn’t whitewash or airbrush birth mothers out of the process.”

The meeting was later reconvened and concluded without further disruption.

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