09 December 2013
ByAppeared 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.