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Irish Supreme Court considers surrogacy parenthood appeal

10 February 2014
Appeared in BioNews 741

The Irish Supreme Court has heard an appeal over surrogacy parenthood, reserving its decision for a later date.

The hearing, which ran for almost four days before concluding last week, concerned an appeal brought by the Irish Government against a High Court decision last year that allowed a woman who is the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate to be recognised as a legal parent (reported in BioNews 696).

The State argued that a surrogate who gives birth to a child using another woman's genetic material must be registered as the child's mother.

Michael McDowell SC, opening for the State before a seven-judge Supreme Court, explained that the basis for motherhood is that motherhood involves pregnancy and, in law, cannot be based on genetics.

He further added that it would be of 'grave public concern' with consequences for citizenship, succession and the criminal law if the High Court decision is not overturned by the Supreme Court.

Mr McDowell said that the genetic parents, if successful, would 'put in complete doubt' the status of numerous women who consider themselves as mothers after giving birth to children conceived using donated eggs.

Any changes to the law on motherhood should be made by the Irish Parliament, he said, not the courts.

For the parents, Gerry Durcan SC said the international trend was to establish parentage by the presence or absence of genetic links. He added that due to certain advances in science, the birth mother and gestational mother are not always one and the same. However, genetic parentage could be established with certainty through genetic testing.

The surrogate involved in this case is a sister of the genetic mother and consented to the couple to be registered as the birth parents. She expressed support for the genetic parents' position and described the pregnancy as an 'act of love'.

The Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Susan Denham, said that the case raised significant matters and the court reserved its judgment.

'Motherhood can no longer be decided on basis of giving birth’
Irish Independent |  4 February 2014
State argues surrogate is ‘legal mother’ of twins
Irish Times |  3 February 2014
Supreme Court reserves judgment in surrogacy case
Irish Times |  6 February 2014
Surrogacy appeal to Supreme Court underway
Irish Independent |  3 February 2014
29 September 2014 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The Irish Government has removed provisions on surrogacy from draft legislation reforming family law in the country, while including proposals to prohibit anonymous sperm and egg donation....
17 March 2014 - by Louisa Ghevaert 
A recent case made national headlines for being a 'do it yourself' surrogacy arrangement which ended in marital breakdown and legal chaos, but news reports did not fully address the complex issues raised in the case about the identity and best interests of the child...
3 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...
10 June 2013 - by Dr James Heather 
The Irish Government is to appeal a recent court ruling that allowed the genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate to be listed as their legal mother on their birth certificates...
11 March 2013 - by Ruth Retassie 
The Irish High Court has ruled in a landmark case that a woman who is the genetic mother of twins born through a surrogate can be recognised as the legal mother of the children....
28 January 2013 - by Nina Chohan 
An Irish couple has brought a legal challenge against the State for refusing to remove the surrogate mother from their children's birth certificates and to register the genetic mother as a legal parent...
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