Parts 2 and 3 of the Children and Family Relationship Act 2015 (as amended) commenced on 4 May 2020 and will for the first time, provide a legal framework for registering the births of children who are born as a result of assisted human reproduction involving donated eggs, sperm or embryos. The legislation also requires donor details to be stored through the establishment of the National Donor-Conceived Person Register. This will enable children to access information on their donor should they so wish thus enabling them to exercise their rights to know their genetic identity.
Commencement of Parts 2 and 3 also entitles parents of children born in the State as a result of a donor assisted reproduction procedure performed before the 4th of May to apply to the courts for legal recognition of their parental status, subject to certain conditions.
Following commencement, the legislation prohibits the use of non-anonymous gametes in most circumstances, embedding the rights of children to know their genetic heritage in future years.
I am acutely aware of the difficulties the global COVID-19 pandemic has presented for donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR). It has led to the closure of fertility clinics for several weeks and some individuals and couples have found themselves in a position where they can no longer use gametes they had previously purchased, or import anonymous embryos for use in fertility treatments in the State.
However, it is now over 5 years since the Children and Family Relationships Act was enacted and while I had intended to commence Parts 2 & 3 last summer I allowed a longer lead time to for people to make arrangements to use gametes that have already been purchased, where appropriate, and to allow a sufficient pool of donors with the appropriate consent to be acquired in advance of commencement of Parts 2 and 3 of the Act of 2015.
Further delay to the commencement of Parts 2 and 3 would have presented an unfair penalty to those parents who have already waited a substantial period of time to have their rights to parentage vindicated in law and most importantly for the State to vindicate the rights of donor conceived children to information about their identity.