Key laws and policies
Note there are:
- No specific laws governing assisted reproduction or surrogacy in the Republic of Ireland
- Non-binding guidelines: The Guide to Professional Conduct & Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners, 2009.
In December 2014, it was said that the Minister for Justice and Equality plans to bring legislative proposals to Government in relation to assignment of parentage in cases of ART, including surrogacy. Regulation regarding assisted reproduction generally is also being considered (and called for by the Supreme Court). However to date nothing has been forthcoming.
The Constitution (Article 40, Section 3.3) "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn…with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother," but the legal interpretation of this is disputed.
A common view is that the "unborn" includes all in vitro embryos and that the constitution therefore prohibits all embryonic research and all forms of cloning. However, a 2006 court opinion, which as of April 2008 was on appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested that "unborn" meant "a foetus or child within the womb."
"The Irish government has stated its opposition to cloning, both therapeutic and reproductive, on a number of occasions and therefore it is thought unlikely that the legal position on this issue will change in the near future." Arguably, cloning is not prohibited by law but certainly it is in practice.
Permitted and regulated practices
Pre-Implantation Genetic Diagnosis
- It is often stated that PGD is prohibited, and it seems not to be practiced, but also not to be specifically illegal.
Access/Use of Assisted Reproduction
The guidelines provide that assisted human reproduction treatments, such as IVF:
- Should only be used after thorough investigation has shown that no other treatment is likely to be effective
- Should only be provided by suitably qualified professionals, in appropriate facilities, and according to international best practice.
They also state regarding donor programs that if clinicians "offer donor programs to patients, [they] must consider the biological difficulties involved and pay particular attention to the source of the donated material. Such donations should be altruistic and non-commercial." They also require that accurate records be kept for future reference.
Male sperm donors may be considered to be fathers. There is case law to this effect (McD v L  IESC 81 or  IESC 81).
There is no ban on same-sex couples accessing ART services, but only the genetic father or the birth mother may be recognized as the child's parent.
There are no laws currently regulating surrogacy arrangements.
- Irish Council for Bioethics, Ethical, Scientific and Legal Issues Concerning Stem Cell Research (April, 2008).
- Gunning, Jennifer and Søren Holm. Ethics, Law and Society, Volume 2. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd.: 2006