Proposed legislation requiring that at least one prospective parent of a child born to surrogacy must be under the age of 45 could amount to age discrimination, the Government special rapporteur on child protection has said.
In a paper to be presented at the EU presidency conference next month on the Children and Family Relationships Bill, Geoffrey Shannon said the provision should be looked at again.
He also raised concerns that provisions aimed at prohibiting commercial surrogacy punish the child rather than the perpetrators.
The general scheme of the Bill was published by former minister for justice Alan Shatter in January. It provides a framework for surrogacy and assisted human reproduction for the first time in Ireland.
It also introduces new legislation on parentage, child maintenance, guardianship, custody and access, and powers to enforce custody and access orders.
A note in the scheme says a maximum age for surrogacy is suggested in the legislation “to increase the likelihood that at least one intending parent will live well into the child’s adulthood”.
There is no such age limit in the UK, where surrogacy was first legislated for in 1985, though courts do take into account age when considering applications for parentage.
The Irish Bill also stipulates the court will not make an order of parentage for a child if the surrogate mother is under 24 or if an unpermitted payment was made to her.
“The effect of this is to deny parentage to the child,” Mr Shannon said. This would lead to denied citizenship and might affect the child’s rights, and should be reconsidered.
The Irish Times, 19.05.20142014.05.18