Wednesday, 31 March 2021
Department of Health
Assisted Human Reproduction
1048. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to ensure disabled persons' voices and experiences are being incorporated into the assisted human reproduction Bill; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16965/21]
1049. To ask the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to ensure that the ethics committee of the assisted human reproduction regulatory authority includes the voice of disabled persons when established; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16966/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 1048 and 1049 together.
As the Deputy will be aware, drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated research is ongoing by officials in my Department in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. This comprehensive piece of legislation encompasses the regulation, for the first time, of a range of practices, including: gamete (sperm or egg) and embryo donation for AHR and research; domestic surrogacy; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos; posthumous assisted reproduction; and embryo and stem cell research.
The legislation provides for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The Board of the Authority will be able to establish committees to advise the Board on matters relating to its functions and membership of these committees will have the relevant experience and expertise necessary to assist the Authority in carrying out its the functions.
The Regulatory Authority will also be responsible for the development and preparation of Codes of Practice for the AHR provisions. It is envisaged Codes of Practice would provide advice and guidance on how the AHR legislation will operate on a day-to-day basis "on the ground". Under the legislation and prior to the finalisation of Codes of Practice, draft codes of practice will be published to allow a consultation process where representations can be made on the draft code. This will ensure that stakeholders, including those from the disability sector, can input into the development of the Code.
Overall, the provisions outlined within the legislation will ensure that AHR practices and related areas of research are conducted in a more consistent and standardised way and with the necessary oversight. The aim of the AHR legislation is to promote and ensure the health and safety of parents and others involved in the process while, most importantly, consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born as a result of AHR is the key principle underpinning all legislative measures in this area.