Ukrainian surrogacy child is welcome in Ireland


European Union


Photo AFP, Sergei Supinsky

The Irish government intends to permit international surrogacy (mainly from Ukraine) while banning the practice in its own country. A judge criticised their communication in a trial about the Ukrainian child of the Egan family.

Kathy Egan does not know whether she will be the legal mother of her boy when her terminally ill husband Brian dies. The couple has a child which was born from a surrogate mother in Ukraine. At the moment, only Mr Egan has full custody over his son, although the boy has DNA from both Mrs and Mr Egan.

The question who will have the custody is urgent, because Mr Egan is battling a life-threatening disease. Because of that, they went to court to challenge the State. According to the Egans, the State should acknowledge Kathy as the legal mother of her child. At the moment, she is only the guarding of the child and that status will lapse when he reaches the age of 18

While the court case gets a lot of media attention, the government coalition decided over the weekend to make commercial surrogacy permittable abroad. It will be prohibited in Ireland. This reports The Irish Times. The law is also said to allow parents of existing children born abroad via surrogacy agreements to be recognised in Irish law as the parents. In commercial surrogacy, women with a profit motive offer to carry a baby for other people.

Christmas present

Although some surrogacy admirers called it “a Christmas present”, the judge handling the case of the Egan family criticised the government for their timing and way of communicating. According to Mr Justice Jordan, it was unacceptable for a court to learn of plans for legislation through media reports on day five of a case concerning those very issues.

Mr Justice Jordan adjourned the proceedings to a date in December. At that moment, it will be clear who are the legal parents of the Egan child.

At the moment, the government coalition consists of three parties: the Conservative and Christian Democratic party Fianna Fáil, the Green Party and Fine Gael, a liberal-conservative and Christian Democratic party.

Double standard

Officials in the Justice Department had reportedly advised that it would be “difficult to justify” the “double standard” of permitting commercial surrogacy arrangements abroad while banning them at home. However, an advisory committee learned that banning commercial arrangements for surrogacy would effectively end the service that is used by hundreds of Irish couples, usually in Ukraine.

Technically, it is nearly everywhere already possible to use commercial surrogacy abroad. The only thing that complicates it is the question of custody. Couples need to travel to Ukraine to both gain the official guardianship of the child since regulation in Ukraine is less strict than in most other countries. Suppose the child was born in another country. In that case, the woman who gave birth to the child is mostly regarded as the biological mother and thus given custody over the child. The war in Ukraine has made it more difficult for parents-to-be to travel to the country. Irish law would now make it easier for couples to gain custody without travelling abroad.

At the moment, surrogacy is unregulated in Irish law, writes The Irish Times, “leaving thousands of couples who have had children via this route in a legal limbo regarding their status as parents.”



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