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Thursday, February 19, 2015

New law will make it illegal to pay for surrogate mothers

SURROGACY FOR MONEY will be illegal under new proposals that will be drafted by the Minister for Health.

Speaking on Claire Byrne Live last night, Minister Leo Varadkar said that, while surrogacy is not currently illegal, “there is no legal framework for it” and laws are needed.

“Among the proposals that I will be putting forward is that we will ban commercial surrogacy, which is surrogacy for money,” he said.

That we won’t allow what’s called “sex selection”, choosing the gender of your child, unless there’s a particular reason to do so around a disorder that is inherited only by a particular gender. We’re going to say that you have to have a genetic link to the child if you’re going to use surrogacy.

The minister also said that he hopes the the legislation will not allow anonymous egg and sperm donation adding that there will be “a register of donor conceived children so people will know who their biological parents are”.

Laws surrounding surrogacy were originally drafted as part of the Children and Family Relationships Bill but the minster said it made more sense for them to be part of a bill governing assisted human reproduction.

The Children and Family Relationships Bill covers a wide range of different parental rights around issues such as guardianship and adoption. It is due to be presented to cabinet this week by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.

Supreme court
The debate surrounding surrogacy has gained extra impetus after the Supreme Court ruled last year that only the birth mother can appear as the legal mother of a child. While issuing the ruling, the Supreme Court was critical of the lack of legislation around surrogacy.

Speaking on the same show, columnist and Iona Institute director David Quinn said that the case demonstrated to him that surrogacy shouldn’t be allowed:

“Because of issues like this, a lot of European countries actually ban surrogacy completely both commercial and non-commercial. The non-commercial form by the way still involves payments of £12,000-£15,000 in England for example by the mother and it nearly always invariably women from poorer backgrounds who give the use of their wombs for use like that.”

Varadkar also acknowledged concerns that all of the the above issues will become mixed up with the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum.

“The Children and Family Relationship Bill, and the bill on Assisted Human Reproduction and Surrogacy isn’t about gay people or lesbian people, it’s about children in the main and all people. And most of the people who avail of assisted human reproduction or surrogacy, or most of the people who are in the family courts, are actually heterosexual couples. So to try and turn that into some sort of same-sex or gay issue I think is wrong.”

A fertility specialist at the Beacon CARE clinic,  Professor Simon Fishel, welcomed clarity was being brought to a legally murky area, and said the developments were unlikely to impact on the majority of Irish patients.

“In other markets, the banning of anonymous sperm donation caused an increase in cost and waiting times for patients due to a major decrease in donor sperm supply,” he said in a statement released today.

However almost all of donor sperm used in Ireland is imported from abroad and we have always given our patients the option of choosing identity release donors, so the new regulations are unlikely to impact the majority of Irish patients.

Fishel said it may result in an increase in the number of Irish people who want to use anonymous donor sperm travelling abroad.


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