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Legislation on surrogacy in pipeline - Leo

Legislation dealing with issues including surrogacy is "long overdue", Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said.

He was speaking following a landmark Supreme Court ruling that a genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate is not entitled to be registered as their legal mother on their birth certificates.

The minister said that a memo on an Assisted Reproduction Bill to deal with surrogacy will be brought to Government by the end of the year.

Mr Varadkar said he would consult with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, Government colleagues and others on the preparation of this Bill, which is "likely to deal with the issues of legal parentage, surrogacy, egg and sperm donation and other related issues."

It follows yesterday's ruling, in which Chief Justice Susan Denham said the issues in the case arose from radical developments in assisted human reproduction and were "quintessentially" for the legislature, not the courts, to address.

She was giving her judgment as part of a six-to-one majority Supreme Court ruling overturning a High Court decision in favour of the genetic mother.

She said there was "clearly merit" in the Oireachtas legislating because there was a legal "lacuna" about certain rights, especially those of children born via such arrangements.

"Any law on surrogacy affects the status and rights of persons, especially children: it creates complex relationships and has a deep social content."

In separate judgments, Mr Justice John Murray, Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, Mr Justice Donal O'Donnell, Mr Justice William McKechnie and Mr Justice John MacMenamim agreed that the appeal, bought by the State against the High Court decision, should be allowed. Mr Justice Frank Clarke dissented.

The case centred on twins born, using genetic material from their parents, to a surrogate, a sister of the genetic mother who cannot carry children due to a disability.

The Registrar of Births registered the genetic father as the twins father on their birth certificates but refused to register the genetic mother because she was not the birth mother and said the surrogate must be registered as the legal mother.

GENeTIC

However, the genetic parents successfully challenged that in the High Court which ruled motherhood is based on genetic links.

The State appealed, arguing the High Court decision had "massive" implications, including for mothers who bore children using donated eggs, and citizenship and succession rights.

The Chief Justice said the core issue was the registration of a "mother" under the Civil Registration Act 2004.

fdillon@herald.ie


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