A BBC report on surrogate babies from Ukraine last week has sparked fresh calls for the introduction of legislation on the issue in Ireland.
The report showed 35 babies being kept in a hotel room and being cared for by nursing staff. The babies have been born to surrogate mothers and lockdown restrictions have prevented commissioning parents from traveling to Ukraine to collect them. Some of the babies are now two months old.
Surrogacy is a thriving legal business in the Ukraine and each baby carried by a Ukrainian mother will have cost the commissioning parents up to $50,000.
“Barriers to travel are multiple and include a lack of flights, country border closures to foreigners, difficult access to visas, the need for diplomatic co-operation from ‘sending’ governments and fear of being stuck overseas or en route,” said the Growing Families group.
Growing Families is described on its website as a consumer-based non-profit organisation focused on bringing together surrogates, donors and intended parents.
There is currently no legislation in Ireland to cover the legal issues arising from surrogacy, and as a result, the birth mother of a child is currently considered the legal mother.
Children’s ombudsman Niall Muldoon has said that every child born through assisted reproduction should have full, accurate information on “the reality of their lineage and birth … this would necessarily include the identity of any gamete donors or surrogates”.
A proposal for an Assisted Human Reproduction Bill to regulate many aspects of surrogacy has been in existence since 2017, but there is no indication of when it will come before the Oireachtas.
While the Department of Foreign Affairs has been praised for offering support to Irish parents trying to get to Ukraine, Growing Families says countries such as France, Spain, China, Poland and Germany are refusing to assist their citizens with diplomatic requests to travel, as they do not support surrogacy as a route to parenthood.
Legislation enacted this month has banned the use of anonymous gamete donation by fertility clinics. It also provides a legal framework for registering the births of those children. However, it does not touch on surrogacy.
Last November, Irish model and nutritionist Rosanna Davison announced the birth of a daughter by gestational surrogate.