Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees

Thursday, 19 May 2022

Joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy

Preventing the Sale, Exploitation and Trafficking of Children: Discussion

Photo of Mary Seery KearneyMary Seery Kearney (Fine Gael) | Oireachtas source

I thank Ms Ward for her patience in waiting. We appreciate that.

Her submission is comprehensive, which helpfully sets out a framework for us. I agree with her latter comments. We have had prohibition by stealth and if we fail to act on the recommendations of this committee, presuming that they are in line with what Ms Ward and many others have suggested, we will likely end up with prohibition by stealth. Let us name it for what it is.

We must understand and highlight how the best interests of the child are interpreted. Ms Ward set out three fundamentals, the first of which is the substantive right that the best interests of the child is the primary consideration. The second is that the outcome of any decision-making is in the best interests of the child and has that at its core. There is also that the evaluation of impacts has the best interests of the child in place. There is a positive and a negative. That leaves us with no choice but to legislate for international surrogacy.

Then the question arises of providing a mechanism that begins before the conception of a child that arms intending parents with information; has a threshold that has to overcome; provides for counselling; and has a full awareness of - if we are to interpret Ms de Boer-Buquicchio's comments - that idea of a “sale”. I guarantee the committee that if we now did a survey of intending parents and existing parents, they would say they understood what were going into in respect of surrogacy is they were contracting for gestational services. They would be appalled by the "sale" element, and by the nuances of it. We, therefore, have to first arm people with that understanding. Women who require surrogacy services may have come through a long IVF route whereby they are trusting medical practitioners. They are in that frame of mind where they trust that the people in the white coats that they are not in an exploitative situation and, therefore, it is important to arm and to equip couples with that pre-knowledge.

I am keeping an eye on the clock, but it seems to be all over the place. I apologise. I will keep going but I am not sure what is happening.


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