Oireachtas committee given three months to make surrogacy recommendations

Oireachtas committee given three months to make surrogacy recommendations

The new Oireachtas Committee will report with recommendations within three months of its establishment, though there is the possibility that this timeframe could be extended. File Picture: Sasko Lazarov/RollingNews.ie

A special joint Oireachtas committee is being set up to examine the issues around surrogacy.

Amid ongoing discussions over the matter, Justice Minister Helen McEntee, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly, and Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integrity and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman, confirmed that they had been given Government approval to establish the committee.

The committee will give consideration to the rights, welfare, and interests of children born through surrogacy.

Current law

At present, there is no regulation of surrogacy - either altruistic or commercial - in Ireland, meaning most surrogacies undertaken by Irish people are commercial arrangements undertaken outside the State.

The law states that the biological or genetic father of a child born through surrogacy may apply for a declaration of parentage in respect of the child under Section 35 of the Status of Children Act 1987.

If the declaration of parentage is granted, the father may then apply for guardianship.

The current law also states that the intending mother of a child born through surrogacy, not being the birth mother of the child, is not entitled to apply for a declaration of parentage under the 1987 Act, even if she provided the egg used in the surrogacy arrangement and is therefore the genetic mother of the child.

Instead, she must apply under Section 6C of the 1964 Act to be appointed the child’s guardian if she is married to, or in a civil partnership with the child’s parent, or has cohabitated with the child’s parent for more than three years and had shared responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care for more than two years.

Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee: "I know how important this issue is for many families in Ireland." Picture: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie
Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee: "I know how important this issue is for many families in Ireland." Picture: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

New legislation around assisted human reproduction is now being drafted by the Department of Health and Office of the Attorney General. 

The Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill will make provision for assisted human reproduction and associated areas of research, and will set out specific provisions under which surrogacy will be permitted in Ireland.  

However, several groups, including Irish Families Through Surrogacy, have raised concerns that the bill in its current form would leave families who availed of international surrogacy without legal protection, given it does not contain provisions to regulate surrogacy arrangements undertaken in other jurisdictions.

Timeframe

The new Oireachtas Committee will report with recommendations within three months of its establishment, though there is the possibility that this timeframe could be extended.

Thereafter, any new necessary legislative proposals will be submitted to Government.

Speaking this morning, Ms McEntee said the cross-party committee was "best placed to examine all of the complex issues surrounding international surrogacy and to make recommendations based on the analysis of that evidence.”  

"I know how important this issue is for many families in Ireland. Recognising this, the timeframe in which we are asking the Committee to complete its work is ambitious," she said. 

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said the Government and his department were "committed to legislating for surrogacy in Ireland" and that the establishment of the committee would be an important step in "recognising and supporting the variety of different family units we have here." 

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