“Frontier race racism” to suggest women in poorer countries cannot agree to being surrogate mothers, says Fine Gael senator


It is “borderline racism” to suggest that women in poorer, foreign countries cannot agree to being surrogates for Western couples, a Fine Gael senator said.

ary Seery Kearney, who had her own child through surrogacy, said the process of assisted human reproduction is subject to “broad generalizations.”

Ms Seery Kearney is one of the politicians who sits on a special committee dealing with the complex issue of international surrogacy, which is currently unresolved.

Before the war, many heterosexual Irish couples or single women would have traveled to Ukraine to avail surrogacy arrangements, while others would have gone to India before commercial surrogacy was banned there.

Concerns have been raised that the availability of commercial surrogacy in poorer countries could lead to the exploitation of local women.

“There is a perception that Irish women are empowered to make fully informed choices and are supported to become surrogate mothers. But somehow women in other countries are not able to do that, either because of the country they are in, their socio-economic background or other cultural dimensions? The idea that they are somehow incapable of making informed decisions is borderline racism, I think,” said Ms Seery Kearney Irish Independent.

The senator, who gave birth to her six-year-old daughter Scarlett through a surrogacy arrangement in India, said people were making “broad statements” suggesting that “entire countries” that Irish people travel to for surrogacy arrangements are unethical.

“There are clinics in countries that are better suited and in places offer more ethical support. So we can’t make blanket statements about entire countries,” she said.

The Fine Gael senator, who suffered five miscarriages and 13 rounds of IVF, said she sees the committee as an opportunity to dispel people’s “common generalizations,” “stereotypes,” and “assumptions” about surrogacy.

She said it was somehow implied that the involvement of money made surrogacy immoral, which “is not the case with IVF or any assisted human reproduction.”

She added that some aspects of unregulated private fertility treatment in Ireland may also be exploitative, but it is not often discussed in the way that surrogacy is.

“We’re sitting on the international surrogacy committee and we’re talking about ethical elements and how you would ensure they take place abroad when there are people in Ireland who are being exploited at a vulnerable stage,” she said.

Ms Seery Kearney said people who use surrogacy face criticism from some who hold “religiously informed views” and oppose all forms of assisted human reproduction.

“I think it’s important for that to be disclosed, and I’m not sure people always honestly say where they’re from,” she said.

“I’d prefer people to come forward and say, ‘I don’t agree with that because of my beliefs,’ because at least then they’re being honest. We don’t always get that.”

The Oireachtas Committee has three months to review the rights of surrogates, intended parents and children born overseas through surrogacy arrangements.

Health Department officials who appeared before the committee two weeks ago had warned that trying to address international surrogacy through an upcoming assisted human reproduction bill could delay the bill.

“This bill was considered before legislation in 2017. And now, suddenly, there is an urgency to get this legislation sorted out by the summer? If we just look at a few extra months,” said Ms. Seery Kearney. “Frontier race racism” to suggest women in poorer countries cannot agree to being surrogate mothers, says Fine Gael senator

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