New surrogacy law won’t end “essential confusion”

“Both are mothers to some extent, but neither is the mother in the full sense of the word” – Bishop

Louise McCarthy

Bishop Kevin Doran has warned that any new legislation will not resolve the “essential confusion” resulting from assisted human reproduction.

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has said a bill addressing assisted reproduction, including surrogacy, will be drawn up by the end of the year.

It comes as the solicitor for the woman who lost her Supreme Court case to be declared the mother of her genetic twins, born to a surrogate, said her clients were hugely disappointed and felt they had a good case.

Marian Campbell said her clients were raising the twins and the surrogate was a sister of the genetic mother and had carried the babies as a “gesture of love”.

The Supreme Court last week overturned a High Court decision declaring the genetic mother the legal mother.

Bishop Doran told The Irish Catholic that “the Supreme Court can do no more than decide who should be legally recognised as mother, but the Court cannot resolve the essential confusion resulting from assisted human reproduction”.

Maternal care

He said that “each woman may love the children very much and each one could probably provide all the maternal care they need.

“When it comes to asking which woman is the mother, however, the answer is not so clear. Both are mothers to some extent, but neither is the mother in the full sense of the word,” Dr Doran said.

He said that, while the Church recognised that couples sometimes needed to use medical treatment to assist the natural process of procreation, “surrogacy, like the donation of sperm and ovum, replaces the natural process and introduces a new relationship into the family.

“It creates an inevitable confusion which is unfair to the children. When the donor is anonymous, of course, additional very real problems arise because of the absence of a medical history and the possibility of marrying a brother or sister without even being aware of it,” the Bishop of Elphin said.

Meanwhile, the chairperson of the National Infertility Support & Information Group, Helen Browne, said that the group’s website got 1,000 hits each month from Irish people experiencing fertility problems. NISIC offers legal information and support to people who want to have children by surrogacy or using donor eggs and sperm.