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Woman sues Irish Government over surrogacy maternity benefits

09 December 2013

By Antony Blackburn-Starza

Appeared in BioNews 734

A woman in Ireland whose child was born through surrogacy is challenging the Irish Government's refusal to provide paid maternity leave in the High Court, alleging that it amounts to unlawful discrimination, reports The Irish Times.

The child was born to a surrogate in the USA and the intended parents, who are also the child's genetic parents, are both registered as legal parents on the child's birth certificate. The mother, who cannot become pregnant having undergone a hysterectomy after she became ill with cancer, was given maternity leave by her employer.

However, as her employer did not provide paid maternity leave, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, applied to the Department of Social Protection. Her application was rejected because she could not provide medical evidence of a pregnancy.

The woman argued that she had been discriminated against on the basis of her gender, disability and family status. Her complaint under the Equal Status Act was subsequently rejected by Ireland's Equality Tribunal and she is now appealing the decision at the High Court. The claim is being supported by the Equality Authority, an independent body established under the Employment Equality Act 1998.

Her lawyer, Nuala Butler SC, said that the woman sought maternity leave so that she could have time to bond with the child.

Ireland provides paid adoption leave for women who have adopted a child. The woman in this case was not proposing to adopt the child, her lawyer explained, as she is the child's legal and genetic parent.

The case continues.

Irish Times | 05 December 2013
Irish Independent | 06 December 2013
RTÉ News | 05 December 2013


13 July 2015 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The mother of a child born through surrogacy has lost her challenge against a decision to reject her application for paid maternity leave at the Irish High Court...
06 October 2014 - by Fiona Duffy 
Why does the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014, published in Ireland on 25 September 2014, contain no provision for surrogacy?...
31 March 2014 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
Parents of children born through surrogacy arrangements will be entitled to paid leave, after new legislation is passed by the UK's Parliament...
24 March 2014 - by Chee Hoe Low 
Women using surrogacy to become mothers are not entitled to maternity or adoption leave under European Union law, the European Court of Justice has ruled....
03 February 2014 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The Irish Government has agreed to put forward proposals for a wide-ranging bill that features provisions on surrogacy and parenthood for consultation...

30 September 2013 - by Dr Louisa Petchey 
Uncertainty in EU law over the issue of surrogacy and the right to paid maternity leave deepened this week after expert advisors to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) gave opposing recommendations on separate but similar cases....
10 December 2012 - by Sabreena Mahroof 
'…and naturally you realise you will not be entitled to Maternity leave….'...
26 November 2012 - by Sarah Pritchard 
The right to maternity leave in the UK will be extended to parents of children born through surrogacy, under proposed changes to rules on parental leave recently announced by the Government....
19 September 2011 - by Nishat Hyder 
A US businesswoman is suing her employer after she was allegedly denied maternity leave following the birth of her twins through a surrogate mother...

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