By Annette Hickey | 5 March 2019

Surrogacy And The Irish Mother (Part One)

pkhl-irish-motherThe “General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017” has proposed several changes in legislation regarding Surrogacy in Ireland and will for the first time introduce regulation regarding this important area of law. 

As such, we thought it important to review these changes and try to understand how they will affect the status and position of the Irish Mother.  

Owing to the importance of this topic we have split this blog into two parts to allow us to deal with each issue in sufficient detail. This first blog will focus upon the position which many Irish ladies find themselves in through no fault of their own, whilst the second blog will deal with specific sections of the actual legislation and break them down into what they actually mean. You can find the second blog here...

To completely honest, until we started to advise Irish couples in relation to surrogacy we were not aware of the many medical conditions suffered by so many women that resulted in their infertility. We did not realise the extent of the numerous investigative tests, IVF treatments and medical procedures women go through and endure before they face the heartbreak and realisation that they will not be able to carry and give birth to their own child. We are therefore very grateful to our clients, the members of NISIG and the Ukrainian Surrogacy Support WhatsApp Group who have shared with us some of their medical conditions and treatments including cancer treatment, congenital heart disease, cystic fibrosis, immune issues, lupus, osteoporosis diabetes, hysterectomy, open heart surgery, ashermans syndrome, adenomyosis, multiple unexplained miscarriages, turners syndrome, lung transplant which results in their infertility. 

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When we heard about women who had survived some of these medical procedures and treatments, we never thought or considered that this woman would be left to suffer the heartbreak that they could not carry and give birth to their own child. When we started to advise Irish couples in relation to surrogacy we met the most amazing people and some of the bravest and strongest women. These women are outstanding. They have endured and survived unimaginable loss, heartache and suffering and yet they do not give up. They consider further options open to them and find the strength to approach us about surrogacy.

They come to our office with hope in their eyes, hope that we can tell them that through surrogacy they may have a child that they so desperately long for. Some women are very angry when they talk to us about how they feel invisible in the surrogacy arrangement, some women are very upset and just cannot understand how they are not going to be considered by the Irish Courts in the Court application. Every time we have to explain to each one of these brave, amazing women that their husband will be the only applicant considered by the Irish Courts and that they must wait for two years, during which time they share the day to day rearing and care of their child, until such time as they can apply for guardianship and/or adopt their child, we see the intense hurt and raw pain of feeling ignored and invisible in this whole procedure causes. 

These women cannot understand why, as part of a married couple pursuing surrogacy as their last hope to have their most longed for child, they are not relevant in the Irish Court process. They cannot understand how they have to almost prove themselves worthy, during a two year period of being rewarded with guardianship of their own child after they have shared the day to day care and rearing of their child with their husband. The reality for a lot of couples is that the woman is the primary carer of the child, the husband returning to work as soon as the baby is settled in at home with his/her parents. 

We believe this is such an important oversight in Irish legislation currently and one we hope is rectified as soon as possible to reduce the heartache and anguish suffered by intending Irish Mothers, especially when quite a number of the couples who investigate Surrogacy as an alternative route to parenthood in Ireland, have already suffered as a result of a serious medical condition.

The second part of this blog will look specifically at the key aspects of the proposed, “General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017” and will discuss what they actually mean in reality for intending parents in Ireland.  You can find this blog here.

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Written By Annette Hickey

Annette has exclusively practised family law in the litigation department for the past 10 years and heads up the firm's Surrogacy & Fertility law team.

She is highly respected and regarded for her expertise and knowledge of fertility law, surrogacy and same-sex family matters. Diligent, thorough and empathetic, Annette brings a wealth of experience, sensitivity and understanding to our team.

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Our Dedicated Surrogacy & Fertility Law Team

"Annette, Ger and her team were the calm oasis of advice, encouragement and legal clarity that helped us at every crucial stage, to realise our dream of bringing our precious baby home. The energy, pace and sense of urgency with which Annette drove our case for completion through the courts was breathtaking and we will forever be grateful for her support in safely guiding our family from our dream of becoming parents again to the reality holding baby in our arms."

Brian and Kathy Egan - Surrogacy & Fertility Law