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Memorandum on Assisted Reproduction Bill soon

14 Nov 2014

Frances FitzGerald Minister of Children

The Minister for Health intends to bring a memorandum for an Assisted Reproduction Bill to Government by year’s end, which would deal with issues of legal parentage, surrogacy, egg and sperm donation, IMT reports.

Commenting after last week’s Supreme Court decision to overturn a High Court ruling declaring the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate as the legal mother, Dr Leo Varadkar accepted that legislation on assisted human reproduction, surrogacy and gamete donation was “long overdue”.

The woman in question could not have children because of a medical condition, but her sister had agreed to carry the embryos created by the woman and her husband at a fertility clinic.

The Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction completed its report on how assisted human reproduction might be regulated in April 2005, but no legislation has been drafted and the area remains unregulated. “I will consult with Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, my Government colleagues and others on the preparation of this Bill,” Minister Varadkar indicated.

The previous landmark decision by the High Court that maternity could be established on the basis of genetics and DNA, and that the genetic parents could be named as the twins’ parents on their birth certificates, was appealed by the State.

The Supreme Court overturned the High Court ruling in a six-to-one majority decision, in which it was stated this lacuna in the law should be resolved by the Oireachtas.

Minister Varadkar added: “Our prime concern here is that any law protects, promotes and ensures 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 assisted reproduction.”

Meanwhile, in a separate move, the Government has announced details of the ex-gratia payment scheme for women, many of them who are elderly, who underwent a surgical symphysiotomy for obstetric purposes.

Former High Court Judge Maureen Harding Clark has been appointed, for her experience in dealing with the Lourdes Hospital Redress Scheme, as an independent assessor in the implementation of the Symphysiotomy Payment Scheme.

The non-adversarial Scheme, amounting to approximately €34 million, will also include payments for the small number of women who have had a pubiotomy for obstetric purposes.

Participants will receive awards at three levels — €50,000, €100,000 and €150,000, respectively.

By Dara Gantly & Gary Culliton;


Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times