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All new parents can opt out of ‘mother’ or ‘father’ birth cert designation

07 May 2020 / legislation Print

All new parents can opt out of ‘mother’ or ‘father’ birth cert designation

The wording option on Irish birth certificates is to change following the enactment of Parts II and III of the Children and Family Relationships Act this week.

The new law deals with parentage in cases of donor-assisted conception.

The legislation has resulted in a global change on birth certificates.

All parents will now have an option to choose the label “parent” in lieu of “mother” and/or “father” on the birth certificate of their child. 

The birth certificates for donor-conceived children will not have a different format to those of other babies.

The Department of Employment and Social Protection had previously suggested that the format of Irish birth certificates would change.

In September 2018, the Law Society Gazette was told that the words ‘mother’ and ‘father’ would be replaced, as appropriate, with ‘parent one’ and ‘parent two’.

However, authorities have now opted for a global change, giving all new parents the choice to avoid the terms ‘mother’ and ‘father’.

“’Parent one’ and ‘parent two’ are not available as a label choice on any child’s birth certificate,” a department spokesman confirmed to Gazette.ie this morning. 

“All parents have an option to choose the label ‘parent’ in lieu of ‘mother’ and/or ‘father’ on the birth certificate of their child,” he said. 

The person who gives birth to the child is named first on the birth certificate, and that person can choose the label ‘mother’ or ‘parent’. 

Choice

If there is another parent named on the birth certificate, the label choice for that parent will depend on their gender.

Where the second parent is male, the second parent can choose either ‘father’ or ‘parent’.

Where the second parent is female, the second parent will be assigned the label ‘parent’.

These options will also be available to parent(s) where a birth is re-registered as a donor-conceived birth.

The new legal framework kicked in on the May bank holiday when Part 2 and 3 of the related regulations in the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015  commenced.

Additional information

Under the new law, the registrar of births will hold ‘additional information’ on donor-conceived children, which may be requested when that child reaches 18.

In tandem, the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill provides for the formation of a National Donor-Conceived Person Register (NDCPR), a move that was first mooted in section 33 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

The Act contains provisions relating to Donor Assisted Human Reproduction (DAHR) procedures that take place in a clinical setting in the State. 

Genetic heritage

Its goal is to protect the rights of children conceived through the use of donor embryos or gametes. It will ensure that they will be able to access information on their genetic heritage in future years.

The details of the parent(s) will be registered on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

The details of the parents and any known donor information (in the case where an embryo is formed from one anonymous gamete and one non-anonymous donor gamete) will be registered on the Irish National Donor-Conceived Person Register.

It applies to procedures where the woman who gives birth is also the intending mother and the child is born in the State.

Donated sperm or eggs

Anonymously donated sperm or eggs will not be eligible to be used in a Donor Assisted Human Reproduction procedure in an Irish fertility clinic after the commencement.

However, where a family wishes to create a sibling for their existing child(ren) using the same donor there is a transitional provision of three years.

In these cases, the transitional period which allows for the use of anonymously donated sperm or eggs is until  4 May, 2023.

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