Surrogacy laws kicked to touch until after election

The Coalition had promised that the legal vacuum for hopeful parents would be addressed during the lifetime of the Government.

Instead, despite Supreme Court criticism about the absence of legislation, the Coalition will make further promises to reform the law in the upcoming election campaign.

Fine Gael sources say there is relief in the party that the issue is being parked until after the election.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar was given Cabinet permission to draft laws on surrogacy and assisted reproduction last February.

However, the final draft will not be complete until next year, before it goes out to public consultation and is also debated by the Oireachtas Health Committee.

Under the proposed new laws, prospective parents will formally apply to have a child through a surrogate. The proposals will address a Supreme Court decision last year, covering the issue of transferring parentage from a surrogate to an ‘intending’ parent. The court criticised the absence of legislation in the area and concluded a woman could not be declared the mother of her genetic twins born to a surrogate.

Mr Varadkar has said commercial surrogacy will be banned under the new law, which will also cover assisted human reproduction services such as sperm and egg donation.

His spokesman confirmed it was envisaged the bill would be drafted early next year. However, it will then go out for public consultation for a number of weeks and also be debated during several hearings by the Oireachtas Health Committee. This is unlikely to happen until after the general election.

Mr Varadkar’s spokesman confirmed that Fine Gael would commit to introducing the new legislation when the election is called.

The Fine Gael-Labour programme for government had promised to legislate to “clarify the law surrounding assisted human reproduction, including the law relating to parental relationships arising from assisted human reproduction”.

It was originally intended that surrogacy legislation would be dealt with in the Child and Family Relationships Bill, drafted by the former minister for justice, Alan Shatter. However, after his resignation, successor Frances Fitzgerald announced that surrogacy would no longer be included in that bill.

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