Special Oireachtas committee established to examine international surrogacy

The announcement has been welcomed by the Assisted Human Reproduction Coalition who have been tirelessly campaigning for improved protections for children born through surrogacy.

A baby holds a parent's finger as a new Oireachtas committee on surrogacy is established.
Image: Pexels

The Irish government has announced the establishment of a special joint Oireachtas committee that will examine the issues surrounding international surrogacy. This comes as an Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Bill is currently being drafted by the Department of Health and the Office of the Attorney General.

Concerns were raised surrounding this Bill as it failed to include provisions regulating surrogacy practices carried out in other jurisdictions. Affected parties feared that families who had undergone international surrogacy would be excluded from the legislation, and left vulnerable in the eyes of the law.

In response, a demonstration spearheaded by Irish Families Through Surrogacy (IFTS) was held outside Leinster House in November, where campaigners met with politicians to discuss the issue. Among others, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration, and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, engaged with demonstrators and later tweeted his support for the “Importance of recognising families and international surrogacy and the forthcoming AHR Bill.”

It is evident that since this demonstration, progress has been made, and the Assisted Human Reproduction Coalition welcomed this morning’s announcement. The Coalition made up of the National Infertility Support and Information Group, IFTS, Irish Gay Dads, Rainbow Family Equality Network, Independent Living Movement Ireland, Equality for Children, and LGBT Ireland released a statement, which also “welcomes the government’s recognition of the need to adapt to modern needs, methods, and approaches to family creation.”

The statement also included a list of their recommendations, which reads:

  • Comprehensive legislation regulating surrogacy should be enacted at the earliest opportunity.

  • Surrogacy legislation should make provision for the recognition of both domestic and international surrogacy arrangements.

  • Provision should be made for a pathway to parentage in respect of children already born through surrogacy.

  • A broader review of the implications of Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR), surrogacy, and modern family forms for the system of registration of births should be considered.

A spokesperson for IFTS, Cathay Wheatley, added: “Our children are Irish citizens and deserve to be afforded the same provisions as every child in Ireland and have a legal relationship with both parents.

“At the moment, Irish children are being left in legal limbo as they can often wait years to be granted parental rights to one parent before guardianship proceedings can even take place for their second parent. This is unacceptable. We call on the Government to urgently enact legislation to protect our children.”

The Oireachtas committee now has three months to make its recommendations on surrogacy, which will then be considered by those involved with drawing up the AHR Bill. The Coalition emphasised the importance of the work being completed within this time frame and said that “further delays that impact children and families every day” are to be avoided.

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