Proposed regulations on international surrogacy include legal rights for parents – The Irish Times

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Regulations on international surrogacy, including legal rights of parents and agreed financial aids for the surrogate, have been proposed by TDs and senators.

TD Social Democrats Jennifer Whitmore, chair of the Select Committee on International Surrogacy, said the issue is complex and sometimes divisive and the protection of children and surrogates is a major concern.

She said the committee hoped its report, which follows three months of hearings, “would provide a solid framework from which international surrogacy could be regulated.”

The committee was set up by the government following pressure from activists and legal experts to address the issue as part of the upcoming national surrogacy legislation, the Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR) Bill. . The members hope that their recommendations will be included in the bill by the government.

Surrogacy in Ireland, whether altruistic or commercial, is unregulated. Most surrogacy is undertaken overseas under commercial arrangements, often in Ukraine, but also in Canada and the United States. Currently, there is no legal mechanism to allow recognition of lifelong legal parent-child relationships for children born through international surrogacy.

There is no path to legal parentage for an intended mother, even if she provided the egg to the surrogate mother. Although there is a path to guardianship for parents, it ends at age 18.

The committee recommended that intended parents could apply to the courts for a parenting order that would give them both full legal rights as parents. The process is expected to be quick, possibly within 21 days once the surrogate has signed an affidavit to confirm consent and a DNA test is performed given the requirement of a genetic link to at least one intended parent.

The AHR Bill would create a regulatory authority in Ireland for national surrogacy arrangements, including a national surrogacy register. The legislation would allow altruistic surrogacy but prohibit commercial surrogacy due to government concerns about exploitation.

According to the committee’s proposals, no surrogacy agreement should be made in a country that prohibits surrogacy. The surrogate should receive independent legal advice, medical advice and counseling before the surrogacy and this would be paid for by the intended parents.

There would be a written agreement and, according to the committee, the surrogate should not be financially disadvantaged by her participation in the surrogacy. Intended parents must reimburse the surrogate for “reasonable expenses” caused by the pregnancy, including loss of earnings and the cost of domestic work that the surrogate is not allowed to do.

Ms Whitmore said it “actually aligns very closely with the AHR Bill” because, although it covers altruistic surrogacy, it “allows for reasonable costs being compensated”.

Asked about indications from Health Minister Stephen Donnelly and his officials that it might not be possible to include international surrogacy in the assisted human reproduction bill, Ms Whitmore said she would lobby for her to include it as it would be a “missed opportunity” not to.

On Wednesday, campaigners seeking to regulate international surrogacy staged a protest outside Leinster House calling for children born through surrogacy to no longer be denied a legal relationship with both parents.

‘Imbalance’

Independent Senator Sharon Keogan, a committee member who previously voiced her opposition to surrogacy, calling it “harmful” and “exploitative”, said at the launch that the report was “unbalanced”. She said potential witnesses with dissenting opinions were barred from hearings, which other members said was untrue.

In a statement outlining her views, Ms Keogan said there was a power imbalance between the ‘sponsoring parent and the surrogate’ and described the intending parent as the ‘purchaser’. It drew criticism from members of the audience and Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery Kearney, who said the view was “outrageous”.

Ms Keogan went on to say that “commercial surrogacy is a practice that violates the rights of women and children and a much deeper examination of the issue than that proposed here this morning should be recommended”.

Ms Whitmore denied that the committee was unbalanced or biased, saying it had invited experts in the fields of human rights, children’s rights and the law, as well as academics, families who had suffered international surrogacy and surrogate mothers themselves.

She said the committee did not invite “very vocal, very opinionated people with very little facts to back up their opinions”.

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