Parents of babies born through surrogacy will now have their right to parentage enshrined in Irish law with a protective and ethical framework in place which also safeguards the rights of children, according to Senator Mary Seery Kearney. Senator Seery Kearney welcomed the recent agreement at Cabinet for legislative amendments to be brought to the committee stage of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill to legislate for international surrogacy.
Senator Seery Kearney, a long-time advocate for families on the issue, said: “These amendments will ensure that parents across Ireland who are not currently legally recognised by the State will be able to apply for parental orders so that they can make decisions for their children.
“The decisions they currently can’t make are simple ones parents usually take for granted, like consent for medical care, taking medication, school trips, having their photos taken. Second parents in situations where their relationship has broken down will now be able to go into court to secure access and custody orders in respect of their children,” Fine Gael’s Seanad Spokesperson on Children, Disability, Equality, Integration and Privacy Rights said.
“Up until now, they have been at the mercy of the biological father of their children when it came to whether or not they would have access or custody of their children. I know of a number of situations where mothers have been coerced into waiving interests in family homes just so that they can get to care for their own children. This discrimination will end now for the second parents of children born via surrogacy. “The planned legislative provisions will ensure that Ireland has a very high ethical legislative framework to provide protections for families and surrogates when Irish children are born via surrogacy abroad.
Senator Seery Keary continued: “Intending parents will have to receive approval from the Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority (AHRRA) before embarking on future surrogacy journeys abroad. This will mean that the safeguards against exploitation and coercion such as independent legal advice, counselling, review of intermediaries/clinics and agencies will all have taken place prior to conception. Once the conditions are approved of and are adhered to, parents will have a reasonable expectation of certainty in securing a parental order for both parents following their baby’s birth.
“Prior to my nomination to the Seanad, I was an advocate for surrogacy legislation born from my own experience. Since my appointment, I have worked with party colleagues and advocacy groups to ensure an understanding of the issues was heard at the highest levels of Government. This culminated in the Joint Oireachtas committee on international surrogacy, where members from across the entire Oireachtas worked hard to ensure that a gold standard ethical framework was recommended to Government.”
Senator Seery Kearney called for legislative amendments to move quickly through Oireachtas and to see the establishment of the AHRRA so that first applications to the Court can be made.
The Dublin Senator continued: “Cabinet also agreed to provisions for future surrogacies and for children already born via surrogacy. Children across Ireland will now have a means by which they can gain a right to full legal relationship with both parents. “The legislation will enshrine ethical standards and safeguarding of women willing to become surrogates to Irish children, no matter where they live.
“Completing the work of the marriage referendum, same sex couples have a pathway to parenthood for both within that couple. Mothers in marital breakdown will have the opportunity to now apply to court for enhanced access to their children as without a statutory right to apply for a parental order they’ve had to sacrifice shares in property and other valuable interests to ensure access to their children.”