Two sisters, one of whom acted as a surrogate for the other, have contacted the office of the health minister requesting a meeting to discuss upcoming legislation to deal with the area of assisted human reproduction.
Identified by their first names only, Dubliners Emma and Vikki said yesterday they are awaiting a response from Health Minister Leo Varadkar, who represents their constituency, and are hopeful of meeting him before legislation is drafted.
Earlier this month, Mr Varadkar promised legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy, and gamete donation after the Supreme Court overturned a landmark High Court ruling that the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate is entitled to be registered as their legal mother on their birth certificates.
The Supreme Court ruled that the birth mother is required to be registered on the birth cert as the mother.
In Emma and Vikki’s case, the ruling means even though it was the egg and sperm of Emma and her husband that created their baby, because Vikki carried the child on their behalf, she is now legally its mother.
Speaking on RTÉ radio yesterday, Vikki said having her name on baby Sophie’s birth certificate was “just wrong”, that she considered the child to be her niece and not her daughter.
She said it meant Emma “has no rights to her own child” if anything happened to her husband.
Vikki described the day that the baby was registered as “the worst day, the most difficult day” in the whole surrogacy process.
“The most difficult day was the day I had to go in and register my sister’s baby as my own with her husband,” Vikki said.
The decision to act as surrogate for her sister goes back a decade, to the day Emma was told at age 17 that she would never be able to carry a baby. While she had no fertility issues, she has a medical condition that means her womb is too small to carry a child to full term.
“I kept trying to console her and reassure her, ‘one day you will be a mammy, we’ll just have to go down a different route but you’ll have your own baby’,” Vikki said.
Emma was “born to be a mammy”, Vikki said. When the time came, Vikki didn’t hesitate. “I didn’t have to think,” she said.
At the age of 21, Vikki gave birth to her own son Josh and was happy to help.
Emma underwent IVF in Dublin and then travelled abroad for egg retrieval with her husband. Vikki, in the meantime, was taking hormone tablets to make sure the lining of her womb was thick enough and she had injections to ensure she didn’t release any of her own eggs.
She travelled to meet Emma and to undergo egg implantation when the time was right, and two weeks later took a pregnancy test.
“I didn’t look at it. I went straight into Emma’s bedroom and left it on her locker,” Vikki said. She wanted her sister to know the result first and give Emma and her husband “as many of their moments” as possible. Sophie arrived 16 weeks ago, and is thriving.
Vikki had no qualms about “handing her over” because as far as she is concerned, the baby is her sister’s.
“Emma and Michael created Sophie. I just gave her somewhere to grow big and strong enough to come into the world and it really is as simple as that.”
The sisters are enthusiastic about undergoing the surrogacy process again.
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