Warning over lack of
laws on assisted human reproduction
CARL O'BRIEN, Chief
Irish Times, Mon, Nov
special rapporteur on child protection has expressed “profound
concern” that the State’s failure to legislate for assisted human
reproduction is violating vulnerable children’s rights.
Geoffrey Shannon warned
that the lack of any regulation means children being born by surrogacy
are likely to continue to end up stateless or unable to obtain
“There are huge
vulnerabilities in not knowing your status in a country. Unless we set
this out clearly, then it simply can’t be in the best interests of any
child and is a breach of virtually every international instrument that I
know,” he said.
Mr Shannon added there
were no procedures to ensure surrogate children were being born into
suitable or safe families, unlike the adoption vetting process. The lack
of any regulation also meant Ireland was in danger of becoming a “safe
haven” for unscrupulous practices associated with assisted
He raised concern that
use of anonymous donor sperm or eggs in IVF clinics meant that hundreds
of children may never be able to trace their genetic parents or have
access to important genetic information.
Unlike most of Europe,
Ireland does not have any laws on assisted human reproduction. This is
despite the establishment of a special commission in 2000 which issued a
series of recommendation on how the government could legislate in this
area. While legislation is planned in the programme for government,
officials are unable to say when it is likely any proposed laws will
under the Freedom of Information Act indicate the issue is in danger of
being pushed back due to pressure on civil servants. A document prepared
for the Minister for Health James Reilly states officials only have the
resources to focus on either legislation for assisted human reproduction
or the introduction of lawful abortion in line with a recent European
Court of Human Rights ruling. The Government recently announced it was
prioritising plans to legislate for the abortion ruling. A spokesman for
Mr Reilly insisted legislation for assisted human reproduction remained
a “priority issue”.
Another legal expert,
Tony O’Connor SC, said the lack of any law to protect the rights of
children, donors or commissioning parents meant there was a major
shortage of Irish donor sperm and eggs.
understandable reluctance on the part of Irish people to donate gametes
or embryos when there is a possibility their identity will be disclosed,
even if they have a contract or other assurance,” he said.
© 2011 The Irish Times
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