The Irish Times
New legislation should not punish children for mistakes of adults, says child rapporteur
A memo on a Bill to deal with surrogacy will be brought to Government by the end of the year, Minister for Health Leo Varadkar has said.
Speaking following a landmark decision by the Supreme Court yesterday that the birth mother of twins born by surrogacy is their legal mother, Mr Varadkar said legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and gamete donation was long overdue.
Solicitor Marion Campbell: “Children are being very exposed because there is no framework to cover their rights.” Photograph: Collins Courts
The Supreme Court overturned, by a majority of six to one, a High Court decision that found the genetic mother of the twins was their legal mother.
Mr Varadkar said the Assisted Reproduction Bill was “likely to deal with the issues of legal parentage, surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, and other related issues”.
“Our prime concern here is that any law protects, promotes and ensures the health and safety of parents, others involved in the process such as donors and surrogate mothers, and most importantly, the children who will be born as a result of assisted reproduction,” he said.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald welcomed the Supreme Court’s ruling.
She said she was “very sympathetic to the truly human circumstances at the heart of this case”, but if the High Court decision had been allowed to stand, “hundreds of women who have given birth to children using donated eggs would have doubt cast on their status as their children’s mother”. Measures on surrogacy had been included in the Children and Family Relationships Bill, but were subsequently removed from the Bill.
Child rapporteur Geoffrey Shannon said the Supreme Court ruling provided clarity on surrogacy and how legislation might proceed. A surrogacy framework was needed, he said, with standards and supervision, and where the welfare of the child was prioritised. “We need to be very careful that we don’t punish children in terms of relegating them to a legal limbo because of any mistakes made by the adults.”
The solicitor for the couple at the centre of the judgment said the Government needed to “get their act together” and introduce the legislation.
“Surrogacy is happening; it’s happening here in this country and it’s happening internationally and children are being very exposed because there is no legal framework in place to cover their rights,” said Marion Campbell.