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, is ongoing by my officials, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General.
This comprehensive and far-reaching piece of legislation encompasses the regulation, for the first time in this country, of a wide 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 the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The publication of the AHR Bill is a priority for my Department and the Government, and a commitment to enact this legislation is included in the Programme for Government, “Our Shared Future”.
My officials have engaged with representatives from the group referred to by the Deputy, we are aware of their concerns with the published General Scheme, and I can assure the Deputy that issues put forward by this group, as well as those raised by numerous other stakeholders, are being considered from a policy and legal perspective during the ongoing drafting of the Bill.
Overall, the provisions outlined within the General Scheme will ensure that AHR practices and related areas of research are conducted in a more consistent and standardised way and with the necessary oversight. The aim of the AHR legislation is to promote and ensure the health and safety of parents and others involved in the process while, most importantly, consideration of the welfare and best interests of children born as a result of AHR is the key principle underpinning all legislative measures in this area.