As the Deputy will be aware, 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. This comprehensive piece of legislation encompasses the regulation of a range of practices for the first time, including altruistic domestic surrogacy. The General Scheme also provides for the establishment of an independent regulatory authority for AHR.
The provisions relating to surrogacy are outlined in Part 6 of the General Scheme. These provisions outline the specific conditions under which surrogacy in Ireland will be permitted, including a requirement for all surrogacy agreements to be pre-authorised by the AHR Regulatory Authority. The General Scheme also sets out a court-based mechanism through which the parentage of a child born through surrogacy may be transferred from the surrogate (and her husband, if applicable) to the intending parent(s).
In addition, under the surrogacy provisions at least one of the intending parents will have to be genetically related to the child. Surrogacy will be permitted on an altruistic basis where the payment of defined and receiptable reasonable expenses will be allowed. However, commercial surrogacy in Ireland will be prohibited as it raises a number of concerns relating to the welfare and commodification of the children involved as well as the potential risks of coercion and exploitation of financially vulnerable women to act as surrogates.
Drafting of the bill is ongoing in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General. It is not possible at this time to give a definitive timeline for the publication of the Bill and its subsequent passage through the Houses of the Oireachtas. However, the recently-published Programme for Government affirms this Government’s intention to enact this legislation.
Finally, it would be prudent for any individual considering taking part in a surrogacy agreement prior to the relevant legislative and regulatory framework being in place to seek legal advice on the matter.