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Supreme Court says only the birth mother - not genetic mother - can appear on birth cert

The State mother has insisted that only the birth mother can be on the birth cert.

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THE SUPREME COURT has ruled that only the birth mother can appear as the legal mother of a child.

Despite being critical of the lack of legislation around surrogacy, the top court sided with the State in its appeal in a complicated case this morning.

The case was brought by the genetic mother of twins whose sister gave birth to them as a surrogate. She sought to be named as mother on the children’s birth certs but the State has insisted that only the woman who gives birth to a child can be recognised.

In this case the woman who gave birth to the children is the sister of their genetic mother – and both consent to having the genetic mother recognised on the children’s birth certificate.

In a landmark ruling last year, the High Court had decided that genetics can indeed be used to determine maternity just as it can paternity. But the State appealed that decision to the Supreme Court where the seven judge panel delivered their verdict this morning.

The case was fought between the family and the state registrar.

The outcome has major implications for the family, as the mother recognised on a birth certificate is legally viewed as a child’s mother – and is therefore given legal standing in matters including inheritance, while the genetic mother will be given no legal recognition.

The Chief Justice’s remarks in the judgement also have implications for the Oireachtas. She said that nothing in the Constitution would stop lawmakers from legislating for surrogacy.

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She held that “any law on surrogacy affects the status and rights of persons, especially those of the children; it creates complex relationships, and has a deep social content. It is, thus, quintessentially a matter for the Oireachtas, subject to the Constitution”.

There were two dissenting judges on the panel of seven, with one suggesting that it could be possible to include two mothers on the birth certificate.

With reporting by Ronan Duffy and Sinéad O’Carroll

Read: High Court to issue ruling in landmark surrogacy case >

Read: Ombudsman: Children left in ‘legal uncertainty’ without legislation on surrogacy >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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