Reaction to the High Court ruling on surrogacy has been mixed with some groups hailing it as a breakthrough for children’s rights while others cautioned it could create as many problems as it solves.
The Adoption Rights Alliance described it as brilliant, saying it could pave the way for adopted people so far denied knowledge of their biological parents to insist upon the right to know.
Spokeswoman Susan Lohan said: “We would welcome the court’s indication that every child, irrespective of their conception, has a right to know their genetic parents. We trust the State and the courts now will recognise these rights for Ireland’s population of 60,000 adopted people.”
But the Catholic lay organisation, Iona Institute, said the Government should immediately introduce legislation to prohibit the use of surrogates to protect children and prevent the potential for commercial surrogacy and the exploitation of women in poorer countries who could be enticed to become surrogates for wealthy westerners.
“This should not lead to a general recognition of surrogacy because it divides or ‘splits’ motherhood between two or more women. It creates an automatic ambiguity about who the mother of a child really is,” the organisation said.
“Surrogacy is sometimes undertaken as an act of generosity, but is an emotional and legal minefield for all concerned, particularly for the child. Even in European countries where non–commercial surrogacy is legal, the surrogacy contract is often not enforceable in law for that reason.”
Support for the High Court ruling came from the Marriage Equality campaign group which said it was an important step in the law recognising the full diversity of families that existed in Irish society.
The National Infertility Support and Information Group also welcomed it, pointing out that couples who opted for surrogacy did not do so lightly and needed the support of a proper legal framework. Chairwoman Helen Browne said: “A call for regulation was made in the Report of the Commission of Assisted Human Reproduction in 2005, and although it has been a long time coming, we hope progress can now be made for the sake of all the other individuals and couples who consider surrogacy, often after exhausting all the other options to them.”
The Irish Stem Foundation, which campaigns for better regulatory support for stem cell research, said the ruling highlight the lack of legislation covering other areas where there have also been medical advances that have moved far ahead of national law.
There is also frustration from within the Coalition at the lack of progress on legislation. Wicklow Labour TD Anne Ferris said it was regrettable the issues had not be resolved sooner.
“I am calling on the ministers for health and justice to act and to publish legislation as soon as possible. Without governing legislation members of the public are left in a legal limbo, forced to the courts in an attempt to realise their rights. This is an untenable situation that needs to be resolved urgently.”
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