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 Scheme also provides for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health is currently conducting a review of the General Scheme as part of the pre-legislative scrutiny process, which began in January of last year. The review is in progress and the Joint Committee intends to report thereon before the summer recess. The recommendations in the Committee’s Report will be considered during the ongoing process of drafting this Bill in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General and although it is not possible to give a definitive timeline for the enactment of this legislation, I wish to assure the Deputy that it is a priority for me and my Department.
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.