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Think of the Children

Doctors: Punishing parents using commercial surrogacy services won't benefit anyone

Proposals in new legislation to enforce penalties for this would likely be unenforceable anyway, they said.

THE INSTITUTE OF Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (IOG) has said proposed penalties for people using commercial surrogacy services are not likely to benefit anyone – least of all the children involved.

The comments were made in a submission on the Children and Family Relationships Bill. The IOG said that while it supports the concept of non-commercial surrogacy, members are wondering whether it will be enforceable or workable.

Penalties for using these commercial services include up to 12 months in prison.

In its submission, the institute said:

It is extremely difficult to access surrogacy (or even donated sperm, oocytes or embryos) in this jurisdiction. It is likely that intending parents will continue to access these services in other countries. It is likely that Irish intending parents will have no choice but to access services where personally or commercially arranged compensatory arrangements are in place for the payment of surrogates.

“While this may be discouraged, the concept of imprisoning otherwise law abiding parents who have just acquired their much sought after and loved child, is of unlikely to benefit anyone, most notably the child.”

The submission calls for the issue of whether or nor the identity of donors should be disclosed to children to be addressed and says expenses should be paid to those who donate sperm, eggs or embryos.

It also suggested that counselling for those undergoing assisted reproduction treatment should be included.

“Assisted reproduction is a stressful life event with significant medical, legal and social effects on the person involved and also on their families,” the institute said. “This is particularly so in the case of donor conceptions and surrogacy.”

They also proposed that the legislation incorporates provision for posthumous conception – the use of a person’s sperm, egg or embryo after they have died.

The IOG pointed out that several Irish clinics already offer this service, following appropriate counselling and consent procedures and that it would also be common practice in many European countries, including the UK.

Issues have arisen in other countries with some children being legally fatherless and with entitlements after a parent has passed away and the child is born.

The IOG said there is an “urgent need” for legislation in this area in the interest of any children born in this way.

Poll: Should sperm, egg and embryo donors be paid expenses?>

Read: Women who use a surrogate mother have no right to maternity leave, EU rules>

Shatter: ‘Legal clarity for surrogate and LGBT parents by year end’>

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