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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

'Designer babies' ban in overhaul of laws on reproduction

Parents won’t be able to pick the sex of their babies under new laws governing assisted reproduction.

And a birth mother will not automatically be the legal parent of a child born through surrogacy.

The complicated area of assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and in vitro fertilisation (IVF) will be addressed for the first time.

The new law will regulate these areas, which are currently not governed by legislation. The law is being passed ahead of the same-sex marriage referendum in May, as part of a package aimed at dealing with complex family law issues.

The new law will ban parents using assisted reproduction from picking the sex of their child during implantation – known as ‘designer babies’ – unless there is a specific genetic reason for not wanting a boy or girl.

The legal parentage of babies born to surrogate mothers will also be addressed in the wake of a complex case which came before the Supreme Court and High Court last year. The case concerned twins carried by a woman on behalf of her sister and partner and using their genetic material.

The couple sought the right to register the genetic mother on their children’s birth certificates.

The Registrar of Births refused to register the genetic mother because she was not the birth mother, and said the surrogate must be registered as the legal mother.

Genetic and blood links will be the decisive factor in determining who is  the legal parent.

Rather than the surrogate or birth mother, the legal parents will be the genetic mother, who provides the egg, and the father, who provides the sperm.

Health Minister Leo Varadkar will seek approval to draft a general outline of the Bill for Assisted Human Reproduction and Stem Cell Research.

The Supreme Court castigated the Government and the Oireachtas for leaving a gap in the law on surrogacy.


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