Commercial surrogacy has led to ‘exploitation’ and children are given to relatives where there is no genetic connection, says Dáil committee

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Commercial surrogacy in other countries has resulted in “exploitation” and children have been given to parents to whom they have no genetic connection, the Justice Department has warned.

n The Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy today learned that surrogates, children and intended parents have all been exploited by “bad actors” in countries where commercial surrogacy is legal.

Commercial surrogacy, where a surrogate mother is paid to carry out a pregnancy, is banned in most countries around the world. Ukraine, Russia and a small number of US states allow this practice. Hundreds of couples from Ireland, like other Western countries, have flown to countries like Ukraine to grow their families through surrogacy.

Andrew Munro of the Department of Justice told TDs and senators that there have been concerns about commercial surrogacy.

“We’ve seen very difficult examples in the past where, to be fair, expectant parents tried to do the right thing…a lot of people were taken advantage of by bad actors, where the egg supposedly provided by an alleged donor was not the egg. The child given to the intended parents had no genetic connection,” Mr Munro said.

He added that there have been cases where the surrogate was “carried over a border immediately after birth”, or a birth certificate provided by local authorities “named one of the intended fathers as a father despite the absence of genetic material”.

“And that I don’t think is a reflection on future parents, but there were a lot of bad actors in there. And you can see how the surrogate mother, the child and the intended parents have been exploited due to weak public administration in a country,” Mr. Munro said.

Karl Duff, policy officer at the Department of Health, said the government was concerned about “the risk of exploitation of women in poorer countries” through commercial surrogacy arrangements.

The Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy, which held its first public meeting today, was established to consider the rights, interests and welfare of surrogate mothers, children and intended parents. It comes as the government tries to pass a landmark assisted human reproduction bill.

A guidance document prepared for the committee by the Department of Health said commercial surrogacy “raises complex ethical questions and concerns about the commodification of children and the exploitation of surrogate mothers.”

“These issues are accentuated in international surrogacy, particularly when intended parents from a wealthy country like Ireland enter into a business arrangement with a surrogate mother in a poorer country, or a country where women’s rights are less protected,” he said.

“Demanding appropriate safeguards for the surrogate mother is not only essential for surrogate mothers, but is also essential for the well-being of the child in the years to come. From the perspective of the child, informed by historical adoption practices, it can be extremely distressing for an individual to learn of the possible exploitation of a biological mother.

“It will be necessary to mitigate as far as possible the risk that the Irish authorities will be subject to undue pressure or have no real choice with regard to the approval of international surrogacy arrangements which do not respect the necessary safeguards and requirements.”

The Assisted Human Reproduction Bill plans to ban commercial surrogacy in Ireland. The guidance document stated that while commercial surrogacy was prohibited in Ireland due to concerns about women and children, “these concerns arise even more in relation to commercial surrogacy arrangements entered into outside Ireland. the state”.

“Providing for recognition of overseas commercial surrogacy arrangements while limiting domestic surrogacy to altruistic arrangements, thus providing a higher level of protection for women in Ireland than overseas, would create a double standard in the Irish law which might be difficult to justify,” he said.

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