Surrogacy in Ireland and its Legal Limbo

By (embryologist), (embryologist) and (babygest staff).
Last Update: 10/01/2019

Although assisted reproduction treatments are carried out in Ireland, there is no specific law about surrogacy and assisted reproduction at the moment. This is an area that requires immediate regulation.

In the absence of regulation, Irish fertility clinics work under the guidance of the Irish Medical Committee.

Surrogacy is not widely offered or treated, although there are some clinics that offer this service to their patients. However, it is possible that, since in vitro fertilization is available, there may be more cases of surrogacy than are known.

The different sections of this article have been assembled into the following table of contents.

Cases of surrogacy in Ireland

The first case of surrogacy in Ireland carried out by a well-known fertility clinic caused great controversy over the application and regulation of this reproductive technique.

The clinic claimed the sanction filed by the Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics and the Institute did not want to give any type of approval, leaving the case in the hands of the Medical Committee of Ireland and the Irish Board of Medicines.

Although there is no rule expressly prohibiting surrogacy, in 1999 the Committee on Assisted Human Reproduction (CAHR) of the Institute of Gynecology and Obstetrics stated that the ethical and legal problems of surrogacy outweighed the potential benefits.

However, in 2005, the CAHR published a report in favor of the regulation of surrogacy, although there has not been any legislative action to date. Some of the main premises announced in this report are as follows:

  • Rejection of commercial surrogacy, although it does support reasonable payment of pregnancy-related expenses by prospective parents.
  • The surrogate mother should be over 18 years and not have reached the end of the woman's reproductive age.
  • There are no restrictions on the marital status or sexual orientation of the surrogate mother, nor on the place of residence.

For most would-be parents, surrogacy is the most confusing of all fertility treatments. Transparency is a core value for us when it comes to recommending a clinic or agency for them. You can now use this tool to receive a detailed report that will solve any question you may have, and most importantly, to help you avoid potential frauds.

Allocating paternity

To date, there have been no judgements on surrogacy cases, both domestic and international. There are a number of kinship rules that apply to all births, regardless of how they occurred.

In Ireland the natural father is considered to be the biological father. However, when paternity rights were given to a sperm donor, numerous appeals called for regulation of the adjudication of paternity of children born by assisted reproduction.

Many cases refer to the rights of the natural mother but none of them establishes whether this "natural mother" is the surrogate or the biological mother. However, the legal mother is usually considered to be the woman who gives birth.

The CAHR does not insist on changing the non-binding nature of surrogacy contracts, but rather prefers to deal with the consequences of surrogacy by changing the rules on paternity, i.e. by modifying the general principle that an adult cannot waive paternity rights and duties or transfer them to another person.

Surrogacy contract

Surrogacy agreements in Ireland are not binding or enforceable. In the event of a dispute between the surrogate and the intended parents, the Irish Court will treat the matter as any other case relating to the custody, care and welfare of the children.

Given the non-determining nature of this type of contract due to the legal limbo surrounding surrogacy, there are no recommendations or impositions on some important aspects of surrogacy such as:

  • The right of minors to know their origin.
  • The right of the surrogate to terminate the pregnancy, i.e. to abort.
  • The right of the surrogate to maintain contact with the child she has given birth to.
  • Legal requirements.

For these reasons, Ireland is not a place that guarantees the safety of the process and the fulfillment of all rights and obligations on the part of the participants (future parents, surrogate and newborn).

Suggested for you

Given the legal limbo in Ireland, it is not considered a safe destination to start a surrogacy process. If you want to find out about the destinations recommended by Babygest, we encourage you to continue reading here: Suitable countries for surrogacy.

You can also get information about other destinations and their current situation regarding surrogacy in the following article: International surrogacy.

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Authors and contributors

 Andrea Rodrigo
Andrea Rodrigo
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia. Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia along with the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). Postgraduate course in Medical Genetics. More information about Andrea Rodrigo
 Zaira Salvador
Zaira Salvador
Embryologist
Bachelor's Degree in Biotechnology from the Polytechnic University of Valencia (UPV). Embryologist specializing in Assisted Procreation, with a Master's Degree in Biotechnology of Human Assisted Reproduction from the University of Valencia (UV) and the Valencian Infertility Institute (IVI). More information about Zaira Salvador
License: 3185-CV
Adapted into english by:
 Romina Packan
Romina Packan
Babygest Staff
Editor and translator for the Babygest magazine in English and German. More information about Romina Packan

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