Hope for hundreds of Irish couples with surrogate children as new law to finally end legal limbo over parental rights


International surrogacy is to be regulated in Ireland under an Assisted Human Reproduction Bill.

Secretary of State Helen McEntee said a fertility treatment bill would not go ahead without action to regulate international surrogacy and give families “legal certainty and respect”.

The reassurance came as a Fine Gael senator warned that mothers who have no legal right to their children have access to their family being used “as a weapon” against them during the breakdown of a relationship.

Mary Seery-Kearney, who had her own daughter through surrogacy, said she was aware of a woman who was being pressured into giving up her family home or being denied access to her children.

International surrogacy is not regulated or recognized by law in Ireland. This means that many parents who go abroad to have children with the help of a surrogate may not have a legal relationship with their child when they return home. Mothers of children born through surrogacy have reported being interrogated at airports, left in hospital parking lots while their children undergo surgery, or even being denied the right to consent to their children’s vaccinations.

Earlier this year, a report by a special Oireachtas committee said the state regulates and recognizes surrogacy, including in retrospective cases.

Ms McEntee said yesterday her department officials met with the Department of Health and the Department of Children this week.

She said the government plans to amend a forthcoming assisted human reproduction law to create “legal avenues” for parents of children born through international surrogacy.

“Our very clear intention is that we will have amendments for the committee phase of the AHR bill,” the minister said.

“I have been given absolute assurances that the AHR bill and committee phase will not move forward without these changes. We’re working on it. The intention is that we would have them as soon as possible.”

Ms McEntee said the Oireachtas committee’s report outlined “ethical, reasonable and necessary steps” for parents wishing to enlarge their families through surrogacy.

“To put everyone’s mind at ease, there is an absolute obligation to make sure we do this,” she said. “It’s a priority for me, it’s a priority for this government, that families and potential families are given the legal certainty and respect they deserve.”

The minister’s intervention comes after Ms Seery-Kearney, her party colleague, raised concerns earlier this week that the Department of Health had only committed to producing a “strategy paper”.

Speaking in the Seanad on Tuesday, the mother-of-one said Irish children born through international surrogacy needed to be protected.

Ms Seery-Kearney said she saw lawyers’ letters from a father of children born to their mother through surrogacy and reminded her “that they have no legal title”.

“That if they relinquish claim to their family home, they will have access to their children,” Ms Seery-Kearney said.

“So the children are being armed because the state has failed to legislate for surrogacy and for children born through surrogacy.”

Last weekend, she had to fill out a consent form from Girl Guides for her daughter, who she called her “guardian.”

“She didn’t know any other mother. Without me she would not have been conceived, without me she would not be alive,” said the senator.

She said she finds it “absolutely and utterly unacceptable” that she be viewed as anything other than her daughter’s mother. Hope for hundreds of Irish couples with surrogate children as new law to finally end legal limbo over parental rights

Fry Electronics Team

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