Written Answers. - Assisted Human Reproduction.

Alan Shatter

Question:

140 Mr. Shatter asked the Minister for Health and Children the plans, if any, he has to provide a national sperm bank facility and to enact legislation concerning the preservation and disposal of sperm; and the consideration, if any, given by him to addressing this issue. [1255/99]

The human assisted reproduction unit (HARI) at the Rotunda Hospital has provided a semen freezing service since 1997. The service is confined to men who would benefit from semen freezing; they include cancer patients who are at risk of being made infertile as a side-effect of their treatment and who may wish to have their sperm stored for their use in the future. The service is not governed by specific health legislation but operates under protocols drawn up by the HARI unit which include detailed guidelines on the storage and future use of the semen. The service is also governed by the medical council guidelines.

The Deputy will appreciate that proposals which relate to assisted human reproduction raise significant legal and ethical issues. I am currently considering how best these issues may be addressed, including the option of adopting a legislative approach.