I can advise the Deputy of the following in relation to the three pieces of legislation referred to in his question:
1. Children and Family Relationships Act 2015
The Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 was enacted to modernise family law in a way that is inclusive of and sensitive to the reality of contemporary family life in Ireland and to meet the needs of children living in diverse family types. Parts 2 & 3 of the Act, which are my responsibility as the Minister for Health, are key elements of the Act and are concerned with the rights of children conceived through the use of donor embryos or gametes.
Last month, I signed the Commencement Orders and Regulations for Parts 2 & 3 of the Act and the Regulations will come into effect on 5 May 2020. The Regulations include a declaration of parentage regulation and a certification regulation which for the first time allows the intending mother of a donor-conceived child, i.e. the woman who gives birth to the child, to name their spouse, civil partner or co-habitant as the second parent of the child, subject to the consent of both parties. A parent under this section shall have all parental rights and duties in respect of the child. The donor of a gamete or embryo shall not be a parent of that child and shall have no parental rights or duties in respect of that child.
Overall, the commencement of Parts 2 & 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 will clarify the legal position of all parties involved in donor-assisted human reproduction procedures carried out in the State, but particularly the children born from such procedures.
2. Assisted Human Reproduction Bill
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. This comprehensive piece of legislation encompasses the regulation, for the first time, of a range of practices, including: gamete (sperm or egg) and embryo donation for AHR and research; surrogacy; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos; posthumous assisted reproduction; and embryo and stem cell research. The General Scheme also provides for an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health published the report of its review of the General Scheme on 11 July 2019, as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January 2018. The Committee makes 11 main recommendations, which include proposals both related to broad policy objectives and more technical amendments.
The Joint Committee’s report and its recommendations will be considered as part of the ongoing process of drafting the bill in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.
It is not possible at this time to give a definitive timeline for the completion of the draft Bill and its subsequent passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas, but the Deputy should be aware that I consider the progression of this legislation to be a priority.
3. Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination, and Public Display) Bill
Work is progressing on the drafting of the Human Tissue (Transplantation, Post-Mortem, Anatomical Examination and Public Display) Bill in collaboration with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel. Pre-legislative scrutiny of the General Scheme was undertaken by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health on 16 October 2019 and the Committee’s report is awaited.
It is envisaged that the drafting process will be completed, and Government approval secured to publish the Bill, by the end of Quarter 1 2020. It is hoped that the Bill will then be progressed through the Houses of the Oireachtas.