International surrogacy should be provided for in Ireland, the Oireachtas Joint Committee on International Surrogacy has recommended.
As surrogacy in Ireland is currently unregulated, an Oireachtas committee was set up earlier this year to make recommendations on international surrogacy.
In its report published on Wednesday, compiled by eight TDs and five senators, it recommends that “where an international surrogacy arrangement meets the criteria set out in the guidelines recommended by this committee, the intended parents should be able to apply to the courts for a parental order in respect of both parents”.
“This must be carried out in an expeditious process,” it states.
The report states that the parental order should name the intended parents and child born through international surrogacy, and should declare the intended parents to be the parents of the child, “equal in rights to the child regardless of biological connections”.
The order should create an entitlement to all rights and an obligation to all duties, prescribed by statute or otherwise for the parents and child in relation to each other.
In the report’s foreword, committee chair Jennifer Whitmore said Ireland has been “a laggard” when it comes to legislating for surrogacy, resulting in a “legal lacuna” that has had a significant impact on families from all across Ireland.
Ms Whitmore said the framework recommended by the report aims to make the safeguarding of children and surrogates a key concern.
In relation to the surrogate, the report states that the surrogate should receive independent legal advice, medical advice and counselling before the surrogacy.
“The cost of this should be borne by the intended parents,” it states.
If they decide to proceed with the surrogacy, the report recommends that the parental order shall name the surrogate, declaring the severance of any parental relationship with the child and removing all parental duties and responsibilities.
In relation to a retrospective parental order application, the report stresses that two conditions should be met: the first being that the intended parents were the intended parents at the time of conception.
The court must also be satisfied that the pregnancy was always intended as a surrogacy, and that it was always envisaged that the intended parents would be the parents of the child.
Additionally, the surrogacy should have been legal in the country it occurred, at the time it occurred.
The committee’s report recommends that the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956 is amended.
It said: “Following the issuing of a parental order, the child born through surrogacy shall be entitled to Irish citizenship through either intended parent, and not solely through the parent with whom there is a genetic link. This will require an amendment to the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act, 1956.
“The AHR Bill should be amended so that parental, maternity and surrogacy leave are provided for.”
The Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022, which sets out provisions for the regulation of assisted human reproduction practices and research, is currently going through the Oireachtas.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority (AHRRA), a body proposed by the AHR Bill, would be responsible for regulating and licensing of assisted human reproduction treatments.