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Ethics of commercial surrogacy to be probed by Oireachtas unit
Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar

03 Nov 2021 / legislation Print

Ethics of commercial surrogacy to be probed

A special Joint Oireachtas committee will consider assisted human reproduction and international surrogacy with a four-month deadline to make recommendations.

An issues paper drafted by officials in the departments of Justice, Health, and Children, in consultation with relevant ministers and their officials, will be circulated to assist the committee.

The recommendations will then be considered by the Minister for Health as the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill proceeds through the Dáil chambers.

Any necessary legislative provisions which emerge from the  committee's work will be inserted into the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill at committee stage.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said yesterday that there are complex legal and ethical questions in respect of commercial surrogacy.

The practice involves commissioned babies being moved from other countries into this jurisdiction.

The Tánaiste also referred to the right of a child to know its biological parents.

'Complicated ethical issues'

“There are many very complicated ethical issues that have to be resolved, particularly in the context of our difficult history in respect of adoption and women giving up their children and so on.”

“We must get this right,” he said.

Article 7 of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child provides that every child has a right to a name and a nationality, and a right to know and be cared for by his or her own parents, as far as possible.

Article 8 compels State parties to “respect the right of the child to preserve his or her identity, including nationality, name and family relations as recognised by law without unlawful interference”. 

It continues: “Where a child is illegally deprived of some or all of the elements of his or her identity, States parties shall provide appropriate assistance and protection, with a view to re-establishing speedily his or her identity.”

Right to an identity

In 2013, Ireland's then Ombudsman for Children Emily Logan said that donor-conceived people should have a right to know the identity of their biological parents and this should be a guiding principle for the Oireachtas when the legislation regarding this issue comes before it.

Earlier this year, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Prof Conor O’Mahony advised the Government that children born through donor-assisted reproduction or surrogacy should be entitled from the age of 12 to access information about the identity of their genetic parents.

The Department of Justice has said commercial surrogacy raises “important questions in respect of rights and ethics, and concern areas of law that intersect across the remits of several government departments".

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland