More than 80 children were born abroad as a result of surrogacy arrangements for Irish parents since 2011, according to a report in the Medical Independent (MI).
The figures were determined through requests for emergency travel documents, according to a spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Of the 84 babies in question, 63 were born in India, 17 came from Ukraine, and four were born in Thailand.
In late 2015, Indian authorities instructed clinics to stop accepting overseas clients for commercial surrogacy services.
MI reports the Department of Health’s chief bioethics officer, Dr Siobhán O’Sullivan, travelled to India for a study visit in July 2015, along with colleagues from the Department of Foreign Affairs. The visit was described in correspondence between Health Minister Leo Varadkar and Children’s Minister James Reilly in September 2015. In the letter, obtained under Freedom of Information legislation, Mr Varadkar said the study visit would be useful “in light of the proposed legislative changes [in Ireland]”.
Currently, there is no legislation in Ireland governing assisted human reproduction, (AHR) just guidelines published in 2012.
According to Mr Varadkar’s letter, the Irish delegation engaged with Indian government officials, international embassies, lawyers, doctors, and NGOs.
“The visit was very useful and its learnings will feed into the drafting of the legislation dealing with assisted human reproduction,” a department spokesperson said.
Asked by the Irish Examiner for an update on the progress of the legislation, the Department of Health said drafting of the general scheme “is ongoing and a number of issues concerning various aspects of AHR (including national and international surrogacy) are still being considered”.
“Therefore, the department is not in a position to provide further detail at this time,” a spokesperson said.
The department added once the general scheme has been drafted, it will conduct “a widespread consultation during which stakeholders and members of the public will be invited to share their views” after which it will be submitted to the joint oireachtas committee on health and children for pre-legislative scrutiny.
“The proposed legislation will aim to protect, promote and ensure the health and safety of parents, others involved in the process (such as donors and surrogates) and, most importantly, the children who will be born as a result of assisted reproduction,” the department said.
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