Lack of enthusiasm blocked report on law

FORMER Minister for Health, Micheál Martin forwarded the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR) report to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children four years ago but its members failed to ever publish a report on proposed legislation.

Former member of the committee, Senator Mary Henry last night told the Irish Examiner there was “no enthusiasm” among committee members to endorse the CAHR recommendations.

She said that both she and former PD TD Fiona O’Malley thought they “should be recommended” and that former committee chairman, John Moloney did not object either.

“We just couldn’t get approval from many other members. There was no enthusiasm around the issue and it was just left there. I had long thought that legislation was needed and indeed I drew up a bill to the Senate on this issue as far back as 1999. Infertility is a huge global industry and there are huge amounts spent by people in a wholly unregulated area,” Dr Henry said.

Last night, Deirdre Madden, a member of the CAHR told RTÉ News that then Mr Martin forwarded it to the committee so they could decide what recommendations may need constitutional referendum and what required Dáil legislation.

Just yesterday, the Supreme Court criticised the Government for its failure to enact legislation in this area following its decision to dismiss an appeal by a separated mother of two to have her frozen embryos released to her despite the objections of her estranged husband.

The Department of Health last denied that it was dragging its feet in implementing legislation saying that it had been working on the legislation for some time and confirmed that a Dáil Committee on Health had examined it too.

Independent Senator Rónán Mullen also called for legislation so we can “ensure that human embryos are protected from deliberate destruction”.

“What must not happen is for regulation of such life and death matters to be left to any unelected quango, as has happened in Britain where thousands of human embryos are routinely destroyed each year for zero scientific or therapeutic benefit,” said Mr Mullen. “Legislation will need to be highly specific about what is to be permitted and what is to be restricted.”

Labour party spokeswoman on health Jan O’Sullivan said the absence of a clear legislative framework makes it likely that similar disputes could arise in the future.

“The Dáil Committee on Health has a role in this as well as this issue was referred to the previous Health Committee before the last general election. The committee needs to fulfil its role following the outcome of this judgment,” she said.

Meanwhile, the man at the centre of this case, issued a statement yesterday through his solicitor. Thomas Roche said he was “glad it was all over” and that his primary concern was now the return of his privacy.

“My client understands fully that the matters at issue in this case have been and will be the subject of intense public interest and debate, however, his primary concern is for the return of his privacy. He is glad that important constitutional and legal issues have been highlighted by the case” he said.


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