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Ombudsman: Children left in 'legal uncertainty' without legislation on surrogacy

Emily Logan said that the Dept of Justice guidelines don’t go far enough to clear up legal uncertainties for parents and children.

Image: laffy4k via Creative Commons

THE OMUBDSMAN FOR Children Emily Logan says that the Department of Justice’s guidelines on surrogacy don’t go far enough because they leave children born through surrogacy in a legally uncertain situation.

The guidelines published by Alan Shatter’s department last week said that a couple that enters into surrogacy may not be recognised as the child’s parents, even if they are the genetic parents.

To get an Irish passport for the child, the putative father must have provided the sperm and must obtain DNA evidence showing he is the genetic father; he also must apply to the courts for a declaration of parentage before then applying for guardianship, and then a passport for the child.

Under Irish law, the woman who gives birth is automatically recognised as the mother, even if another woman’s egg has been used.

Logan told RTÉ’s This Week yesterday afternoon that that she believes the government needs to go further and debate the issues surrounding surrogacy in the Oireachtas and then legislate for it because from a legal point of view, the guidelines change “absolutely nothing” for the parents and children involved.

She said that this uncertain legal situation has a very real impact on the children involved in terms of getting a passport or medical consent, which are tied to legal guardianship.

Logan also said that the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child has tried to emphasise the importance of allowing all children irrespective of the circumstances of their birth to obtain information on the identity of their parents as far as possible.

“It’s about identity rights,” she said. The “identity of one’s parents is very central” to a person’s sense of identity and their understanding of where they came from.

The Ombudsman said although the number of people involved in surrogacy in Ireland is small, “I wouldn’t underestimate the seriousness of it”. She said she was concerned that people will continue to seek arrangements that are currently not lawful in Ireland. “That’s not the intention of any parent who is desperate to have a child,” she said.

Read more: Genetic parents of surrogate children may not be recognised – Government >

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