Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Health
Assisted Human Reproduction Legislation
As the Deputy will be aware, the Government approved the drafting of a bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research, based on the published General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill. This comprehensive piece of legislation encompasses the regulation of a range of practices for the first time, including domestic surrogacy.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health published the report of its review of the General Scheme on 11 July 2019, as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January 2018.
The Joint Committee’s report and its recommendations will be considered as part of the ongoing process of drafting the bill in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.
The specific provisions relating to surrogacy are outlined in Part 6 of the General Scheme. These provisions outline the specific conditions under which surrogacy in Ireland will be permitted, including a requirement for all surrogacy agreements to be pre-authorised by the AHR Regulatory Authority, the establishment of which the Bill will provide for. The General Scheme also sets out a court-based mechanism through which the parentage of a child born through surrogacy may be transferred from the surrogate (and her husband, if applicable) to the intending parent(s).
In addition, under the surrogacy provisions at least one of the intending parents will have to be genetically related to the child. Surrogacy will be permitted on an altruistic basis where the payment of defined and receiptable reasonable expenses will be allowed. However, commercial surrogacy in Ireland will be prohibited as it raises a number of concerns relating to the welfare and commodification of the children involved as well as the potential risks of coercion and exploitation of financially vulnerable women to act as surrogates.
It should be noted that the General Scheme does not regulate Irish citizens being involved in international commercial surrogacy agreements in other countries. However, the Department of Justice and Equality published a guidance document in 2012 on citizenship, parentage, guardianship and travel document issues in relation to children born as a result of surrogacy arrangements entered into outside the State. The purpose of this document is to provide information to prospective intending parents on the steps necessary to ensure that a child born abroad through a surrogacy arrangement may enter and reside in the State and to secure the best interests of the child. This guidance document is available on the website of the Department of Justice and Equality.
Issues relating to guardianship rights generally are the responsibility of the Minister for Justice and Equality.