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Special Oireachtas committee on international surrogacy to be established

The committee is expected to report with recommendations within three months of its establishment.

Image: Shutterstock/nerudol

A SPECIAL JOINT Oireachtas committee on international surrogacy is set to be established, the Government has confirmed. 

In a statement, it said Justice Minister Helen McEntee, Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman this week received confirmation that the committee had been approved.

There is currently no regulation of surrogacy, either altruistic or commercial, in Ireland. 

The committee will have three months from its establishment to report to Government with recommendations, which will then be considered by the three Ministers, who will submit legislative proposals to Government. 

Speaking today, McEntee said: “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.”

She said that she believes this committee 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.”

Most surrogacies undertaken by Irish people are commercial arrangements undertaken outside the State. Families have consistently called for Government to bring forward legislation to provide for parental status in Ireland in international surrogacy arrangements. 

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, but 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.

Last year, Noteworthy spoke to the McCarthy family, one of many Irish families who have travelled abroad for surrogacy.

Annmarie McCarthy said that five years after the birth of their twins, she was still a “legal stranger” to them, as in Ireland, the woman who gives birth to a child is legally viewed as their mother.

A Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) is currently being drafted by the Department of Health in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.

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This will set out specific provisions under which surrogacy will be permitted in the State, and will make provision for assisted human reproduction and associated areas of research.

Minister O’Gorman said 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,” he said.

Donnelly said: “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.”

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Jane Moore

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