States can only recognise global surrogacy deals that, at a minimum, involve a genetic link between the child and the ‘commissioning’ parents, the Oireachtas committee on international surrogacy has been told.
Tanya Ward of the Children’s Rights Alliance said that the Irish Constitution had elevated the best interests of the child beyond being a primary consideration, in Article 42A.4.1° (19 May).
The ‘best interests’ principle should be strengthened in the Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022 to comply with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) and the Verona Principles, the Children’s’ Rights Alliance believes.
Factors to weigh up for ‘best interests’ include the likely effect on the child – including ongoing psychological and emotional impact – of any decision on surrogacy.
Any regimes adopted in relation to surrogacy must put the best interests of the child front and centre, the politicians were told.
The UN elevates the right of the child to know and be cared for by their parents as far as is possible.
The Verona Principles provide that the best interests of the child should be paramount in all decisions concerning legal parentage and parental responsibility for a child born through surrogacy.
The principles also assert that it is in the best interests of the child born through surrogacy to have a genetic link to at least one intending parent.
The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child had also said that Ireland should ensure that children born through assisted-reproduction technologies should have access to full information about their origins, Ward said in an opening statement.
A child also has a right to be registered immediately after birth and has ‘the right to acquire a nationality’, that is, not to be stateless.
Article 8 of the UNCRC provides that the child has a right to “preserve his identity including nationality, name, and family relations”.
It places an obligation on the state to provide a remedy when a child is illegally deprived “of some of all the elements of his or her identity”.
The UN Special Rapporteur on the sale and sexual exploitation of children has noted that “the rights of the child to identity, access to origins and to a family environment should not be adversely affected by surrogacy”.
The right to identity and parentage, including biological parentage, is provided for also by article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).
The Verona Principles also provide that states have a duty to ensure and assist children who are born through surrogacy to access information about their genetic, gestational and social origins.
States must ensure rigorous data collection and storage to preserve identity information in perpetuity, relating to all surrogacy deals.
Surrogacy deals should only involve surrogate mothers and donors who agree that their identifying information may be given to the child born through surrogacy.
Information on genetic and gestational origins is of vital importance in the context of children’s right to health, the UN has said.