As the Deputy will be aware, 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 officials in my Department, in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. Publication of this legislation 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”.
This comprehensive legislation encompasses the regulation of a wide range of practices, including gamete (sperm or egg) and embryo donation for AHR and research; domestic surrogacy; pre-implantation genetic diagnosis (PGD) of embryos; posthumous assisted reproduction; and embryo and stem cell research. The Bill also provides for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The recently published report of the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection comprises issues relating to parentage and the right to identity in donor-assisted human reproduction and surrogacy in this jurisdiction and abroad.
The area of AHR, including the use of donor gametes and surrogacy, gives rise to complex legal, ethical and social issues, and concerns many areas of law that intersect across the remits of several Government Departments. The findings and recommendations of the Special Rapporteur’s report are being considered in the ongoing refinement of the AHR legislation, as appropriate. My Department will also continue to liaise with colleagues in other Departments where the issues intersect.
Overall, the provisions outlined within the Bill 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.