In October 2017, the Government approved the drafting of a Bill on assisted human reproduction (AHR) and associated areas of research, based on the published General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill. The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health is currently conducting a review of the General Scheme as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January of last year. The Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess.
The aim of the AHR legislation is to promote and ensure 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 AHR. Consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born through AHR is a key principle underpinning the General Scheme. Subject to certain conditions being met, AHR treatments will be available to people irrespective of gender, marital status or sexual orientation.
My officials and I have engaged with LGBT Ireland (the group referred to by the Deputy) in relation to provisions within both the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill and Parts 2 & 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015. As part of this process of engagement, LGBT Ireland also made a formal submission to my Department in relation to these matters.
Given the comprehensive scope of the legislation and the ethical, legal and social issues which arise from AHR practices, it is anticipated that certain areas of the General Scheme will require further consideration and refinement during the ongoing process of drafting the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. An analysis of the Joint Committee’s report on the General Scheme, once completed, and the response of stakeholders, including LGBT Ireland, will feed into this process.