Landmark Assisted Human Reproduction Legislation in Dáil Éireann – By Maria Lord – Legal Executive

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Surrogacy is neither legal nor illegal in Ireland.  To date there is no specific, detailed, legislation covering the many aspects of Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR).  The Courts rely on existing laws for non-surrogate births in matters involving AHR.

The Children and Family Relationships (CFR) Act 2015 provides a legal framework for families with children born as a result of AHR treatment, but this existing legislation does not provide for the regulation of practices, and treatment, involving AHR.  Nor does it address the legal position of children born as a result of AHR.

The Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022 has been approved by the Cabinet for presentation to the Dail and aims to regulate this rapidly developing area of medicine. The Bill aims to assist people to have children safely by regulating the provision of IVF (and other specific practices), clarify the legal position of children born from AHR, and provide an ethical framework in which new reproductive technologies are carried out.

The Bill addresses the legal position of the offspring of AHR by giving them the right to access information about their origins and aims to ensure research involving embryos and stem cells is carried out ‘within a prescribed ethical context’: setting out what practices are prohibited, what practices are permitted and how they should be regulated.

The establishment of a regulatory body: An tÚdarás Rialála um Atáirgeadh Daonna Cuidithe (Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority (AHRRA)) will ensure ongoing regulation and licensing.  Providers of AHR procedures must obtain a licence from the AHRRA to operate lawfully within the State.  The AHRRA will have the power to suspend or revoke licences and impose sanctions.

This comprehensive, voluminous, Bill encompasses the regulation of AHR to ensure practices and research are carried out in a more consistent and standardised way with the oversight of the newly established AHRRA.

The Bill builds upon the existing Children and Family Relationships Act, 2015.  It will create a new National Surrogacy Register and maintain the existing National Donor-Conceived Person Register.  Only time will tell whether this complex Bill, when enacted, will resolve the problems faced by families formed by surrogacy and provide practical solutions for them.

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