The draft Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) will not legislate for surrogacy arrangements undertaken in other jurisdictions, health minister Stephen Donnelly told the Dáil this week (13 July).
Irish parents have faced legal difficulties in establishing a parental rights to surrogate-conceived infants.
Meanwhile, dozens of babies born to surrogates in Ukraine were kept in hotel rooms during lockdown when ‘commissioning’ parents were unable to travel to collect them.
And leading Dublin maternity hospital the Rotunda has also ceased its business dealings with a Ukraine fertility clinic because of concerns about its governance.
Asked whether children born through either domestic or international surrogacy will have their rights ensured, the health minister responded that the legislation will regulate a range of practices, including domestic altruistic surrogacy.
“The surrogacy provisions outline the specific conditions under which surrogacy in Ireland will be permitted,” he said.
This will include a requirement that all surrogacy agreements be pre-authorised by the AHR Regulatory Authority, which will be established by the Bill.
The legislation also sets out a court-based mechanism through which the parentage of a child born through surrogacy may be transferred from the surrogate (and her husband, if applicable) to the intending parent(s).
In addition, under the surrogacy provisions at least one of the intending parents will have to be genetically related to the child.
“Surrogacy will be permitted on an altruistic basis where the payment of defined and receipted reasonable expenses will be allowed,” the minister added.
However, commercial surrogacy in Ireland will be prohibited because of welfare and ‘commodification’ concerns for the children.
The minister also referred to the potential risks of coercion and exploitation of financially-vulnerable women to act as surrogates.
Details of the surrogate, the intending parent(s) and any relevant donor will be recorded on the National Surrogacy Register, which will be established by the AHR Regulatory Authority.
The minister said that this will ensure that all children born through surrogacy will be able to access accurate and comprehensive information on their genetic and gestational origins.
The minister said that protection of the child’s right to an identity of is the key principle underpinning all legislative measures.