Health Minister Simon Harris will now come up with proposals around how the Government might assist couples who are struggling to afford IVF. He is expected to come up with these proposals before Christmas.
However, it is understood that it could be 2019 before state assistance is rolled out and this is likely to be a means-tested support.
Mr Harris brought the draft Bill on Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) to Cabinet yesterday and will examine how aid is provided in other countries to assess what type of scheme might be best here.
Mr Harris said: “This new legislation is the first time that a comprehensive package of measures has been drafted for the area of AHR as a whole.
“It has been long called for and is a very important milestone. This legislation is needed to protect, promote and ensure the health and safety of parents, and children born as a result of AHR treatment, as well as other parties who may be involved such as donors and surrogates.
“Consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born through AHR is a key principle underpinning the Scheme.”
The law would permit posthumous assisted reproduction where mature cells provided by a deceased person, or embryos created using those cells, could be used by that person’s surviving female partner as part of her treatment.
An Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority will also be set up to oversee the sector. Mr Harris said it would be “essential” to the successful implementation of the legislation “given the complexity of the issues involved in regulating this area and the rapidly evolving nature of AHR and research technologies”.
Meanwhile maternity leave and benefit is to be extended to mothers of premature babies, after being approved by Cabinet.
Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty brought the memo to cabinet which will extend the current State maternity benefit of 26 weeks when a baby is born prematurely. This will benefit the parents of around 4,500 premature babies born each year in Ireland.
The initiative, first put forward by the Greens, will see extended benefit paid by the State for the period between birth and when the leave would have commenced if the baby was born at full term.