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Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Surrogacy legislation to be discussed by Cabinet

The State’s first set of proposed laws to deal with surrogacy are expected to be considered by Cabinet today.

At least one of those involved in a surrogacy arrangement would have to be a genetic parent under the proposals to be brought to Government by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

The proposals are designed to reform the law in accordance with recent Supreme Court decisions and will cover the transfer of parentage from a surrogate to an “intending” parent, according to sources.

This is one of the provisions in the draft heads of a Bill on Surrogacy, Assisted Human Reproduction and Associated Research drawn up by Mr Varadkar’s officials.

The proposed legislation, which would for the first time provide regulation in an ethically sensitive and rapidly changing area of medicine, is designed to bring to an end the existing legal vacuum.

The Bill, which Department of Health officials have been drafting over the past year, will set out proposals to regulate or limit practices in the areas of surrogacy, embryo donation, sperm and egg (gamete) donation as well as areas of associated research.

Children’s welfare
The legislation aims to safeguard the welfare, safety and best interests of children, bring certainty to the area for potential parents and provide guidance on what is permitted in terms of research.

The programme for government contains a commitment to legislate to “clarify the law surrounding assisted human reproduction, including the law relating to parental relationships arising from assisted human reproduction”.

It was originally intended that surrogacy arrangements would be dealt with in the Child and Family Relationships Bill being developed by the Department of Justice. However, after the resignation of former minister for justice Alan Shatter, his successor Frances Fitzgerald announced the provisions on surrogacy would no longer be included in that Bill.


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