A report from an Oireachtas committee set up to look at international surrogacy has made 32 recommendations on the issue.
Legislation currently going through the Oireachtas includes provisions for the regulation of altruistic surrogacy arrangements in Ireland, but not for international surrogacy.
The committee’s report says that amending this legislation – the Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022 (AHR bill) – to include international surrogacy is the most appropriate way to regulate international surrogacy.
The report acknowledges, based on evidence presented to it, that individuals and couples will continue to travel abroad to pursue international surrogacy arrangements.
It also notes “significant agreement” among witnesses that the biggest risk to the welfare and rights of children, surrogates, and intended parents currently is the lack of regulation by the State.
Speaking on the report’s publication committee chair Deputy Jennifer Whitmore said that the AHR bill provided Ireland with “an opportunity to bridge the gap in our laws”, adding that this gap had long been a cause of concern to international human-rights bodies and the Supreme Court.
The report recommends that, where an international surrogacy arrangement meets the criteria set out in guidelines recommended by the committee, the intended parents should be able to apply to the courts for a parental order in respect of both parents.
This order would name the intended parents and child, and declare the intended parents to be the parents of the child, equal in rights to the child regardless of biological connections.
It would also name the surrogate, declaring the severance of any parental relationship with the child, and removing all parental duties and responsibilities from her.
Citizenship law change
The committee also calls for the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act 1956 to be amended to give Irish citizenship to children born through surrogacy, where either of the intended parents is an Irish citizen.
It says that intended parents in international surrogacy arrangements should be obliged to provide evidence that the necessary requirements are met in order for a parental order to be issued.
It adds, however, that any international surrogacy arrangement should be legal in the country in which it takes place, and that entering into any arrangement in a country that prohibits surrogacy “should be a bar to a parental order”.
The report also calls for the intended parents to bear the cost of providing independent legal advice, medical advice and counselling to a surrogate before the surrogacy.
It adds that the intended parents should also receive such advice – both in Ireland and in the country where the surrogacy is taking place.
The committee also recommends that a written agreement should be drawn up between the intended parents and surrogate, “detailing the particulars of the arrangement, to ensure all parties are aware of their rights and consent to their responsibilities”.
It says that the surrogate should sign an affidavit following the birth, confirming her consent for the transfer of parentage to the intended parents.