herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Couples who want to have child by surrogacy may have to face court

legislation

Couples who want to have a child through surrogacy may have to get court permission.

The proposal is part of a range of measures being discussed by the Government ahead of the introduction of new laws.

There is currently no legislation governing surrogacy, but the Department of Health is in the early stages of drafting new laws on an issue, which has become a focal point of the Marriage Equality referendum debate.

Senior members of Government favour introducing measures that will require potential parents to explain to the courts why they want to have a child through a surrogate.

The courts would take into account the child's interests and those of the mother who is proposing to carry the baby before allowing the surrogacy.

Strict

"I would envisage court services around surrogacy," a senior Government source said. "It has to be in the best interest of the child".

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald yesterday said that new laws on surrogacy and assisted reproduction will be "very strict", and said no one will be "automatically entitled" to commission a child through a surrogate.

"There is no right to these services. There is no right to a child in adoption, there is careful vetting and very often there are court procedures involved and in this whole area - it will be similar to that," Ms Fitzgerald said.

The referendum commissioner has insisted that the issue of surrogacy has nothing to do with the referendum, which takes place on Friday.

Ms Fitzgerald also underlined that the Marriage Equality referendum has nothing to do with either surrogacy or assisted human reproduction, but rather it was about giving the marriage of gay couples constitutional recognition.

Scrutiny

Sections of the 'No' campaign have suggested surrogacy will become more prevalent if the referendum is passed.

Laws on surrogacy were included in the Children and Family Relationships Bill drafted by former Justice Minister Alan Shatter.

But Ms Fitzgerald removed surrogacy from the bill when she became Justice Minister as she believed the area deserved greater scrutiny and consultation.

Last year, Health Minister Leo Varadkar said he would consult closely with Ms Fitzgerald ahead of preparing new legislation.

A Department of Health spokesman said a comprehensive set of policy proposals in relation to the regulation of assisted human reproduction and surrogacy will be considered by the minister in due course.

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