Government to establish Special Joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy

 

 

21 January 2022

 

The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, and her colleagues, the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly TD, and the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Roderic O’Gorman TD, have this week received Government approval for the establishment of a Special Joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy.

 

Currently, there is no regulation of surrogacy, either altruistic or commercial, in Ireland. The Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill, which is under the remit of the Minister for Health, will make provision for assisted human reproduction and associated areas of research, and will set out specific provisions under which surrogacy will be permitted in Ireland. Most surrogacies undertaken by Irish people are commercial arrangements undertaken outside the State.

 

The Special Joint Oireachtas Committee is expected to report with recommendations within 3 months of its establishment, with the possibility of an extension. Following consideration of those recommendations by the three Ministers, any necessary legislative proposals will be submitted to Government.

 

Speaking today, Minister McEntee said,

 

Groups representing parents and intending parents have consistently called for Government to bring forward legislative provisions to provide for parental status in Ireland in international surrogacy arrangements.” 

 

“In addressing issues arising from international surrogacy, care must be taken to ensure that the rights, interests and welfare of all persons involved in international surrogacy arrangements – children born through surrogacy, surrogate mothers, parents and intending parents – are considered.”

 

“I believe that the cross-party Special Joint Oireachtas Committee that we have agreed to establish is best placed to examine all of the complex issues surrounding international surrogacy and to make recommendations based on the analysis of that evidence.”

 

“I know how important this issue is for many families in Ireland. Recognising this, the timeframe in which we are asking the Committee to complete its work is ambitious. The cooperation of colleagues across the Houses of the Oireachtas is very much appreciated and I look forward to engaging with the members of the Committee when established and to the outcomes of their work.”

 

Minister O’Gorman said,

 

“Given both the sensitivities and complexities involved, issues relating to international surrogacy arrangements require great care and attention. By  establishing a Special Joint Oireachtas Committee, we are ensuring that these issues will receive thorough and transparent consideration, and I look forward to working with Minister McEntee and Minister Donnelly as we progress this.”

 

Minister Donnelly said,

 

This Government is committed to legislating for surrogacy in Ireland and my Department is already advancing legislation on domestic surrogacy. This is an important step in recognising and supporting the variety of different family units we have here. Together with my colleagues across Government and now, with the members of the proposed  Oireachtas Committee, I look forward to progressing this important issue.”

 

Following Cabinet agreement on Wednesday, Minister McEntee has written to the Ceann Comhairle regarding the establishment of the Special Joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy at the earliest opportunity.

 

ENDS…/

 

Notes for Editors:

 

o       Under Irish law, the biological or genetic father of a child born through surrogacy may apply for a declaration of parentage in respect of the child under Section 35 of the Status of Children Act 1987. If the declaration of parentage is granted, the father may apply for guardianship under Section 6A of the Guardianship of Infants Act 1964.

 

o       The intending mother of a child born through surrogacy, not being the birth mother of the child, is not entitled to apply for a declaration of parentage under the 1987 Act, even if she provided the egg used in the surrogacy arrangement and is therefore the genetic mother of the child. She can apply under Section 6C of the 1964 Act to be appointed the child’s guardian if she is married to, or in a civil partnership with the child’s parent, or has cohabitated with the child’s parent for over 3 years and had shared responsibility for the child’s day-to-day care for over 2 years. This position also applies for a male intending parent who is not the child’s genetic father.

 

o       There has been ongoing engagement and discussion between the Minister for Justice, the Minister for Health, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth and the Attorney General on issues relating to international surrogacy.  The Ministers agreed to propose the establishment of a special Joint Oireachtas Committee to consider the issue of international surrogacy and to report with recommendations. Government has today approved that recommendation.

 

o       The report “A Review of Children’s Rights and Best Interests in the Context of Donor-Assisted Human Reproduction and Surrogacy in Irish Law” was received from the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in late December 2020.