Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Ceisteanna (259)

Niamh Smyth

Ceist:

259. Deputy Niamh Smyth asked the Minister for Health the way in which private sector IVF is regulated; his plans in place in this area; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11465/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

Currently there is no specific legislation in Ireland governing assisted human reproduction (AHR). There is limited existing regulation relating to the use of gametes and embryos under SI No. 158 of 2006 (Quality and Safety of Human Tissues and Cells) Regulations, which governs the quality and safety standards in the donation, procurement, testing, processing, preservation, storage and distribution of human tissues and cells, including gametes and embryos. These regulations empower the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) to authorise and monitor tissue establishments, which include some fertility clinics.

In addition, the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015, reforms and updates family law to address the needs of children living in diverse family types. Parts 2 & 3 of that Act, which are the responsibility of the Minister for Health, contain provisions relating to the regulation of donor-assisted human reproduction (DAHR) procedures carried out in the State, including dealing with the rights of children born as a result of those procedures. It is intended that Parts 2 & 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015 will be commenced as soon as possible.

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 2017. The General Scheme encompasses the regulation 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 the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.

The process of drafting this Bill will be completed in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. As part of this drafting process officials in my Department will ensure that there is coherent interaction between the AHR Bill and Parts 2 & 3 of the Children and Family Relationships Act 2015.

In addition, the Joint Committee on Health is currently conducting a review of the General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017 as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January of last year. The review is ongoing and the Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess. However, 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.

The provisions outlined within the Scheme, including the establishment of the AHR Regulatory Authority, 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, 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 Scheme.