RFEN Surrogacy

This content is provided for information purposes only and is not legal advice. If you are unsure as to the legal status or benefit of any actions or have a complex situation that is not addressed here, please contact a Solicitor if you have access to one or contact FLAC www.flac.ie who may be able to assist you. Information last updated July 2020.


What is Surrogacy?

Surrogacy involves an agreement, often documented in a legal contract, whereby a woman (the surrogate mother) agrees to carry and give birth to a child for another person or couple, who will become the child's parent(s) after birth.

People may wish to use surrogacy where there are female fertility issues or when pregnancy is too dangerous for the intended mother, or when a single man or a male couple wish to have a child. 

There are two types of surrogacy – Traditional and Gestational. Traditional surrogacy involves the use of the surrogate’s egg and often an intending parent’s sperm. Gestational surrogacy uses a donor egg or embryo and again may use an intending parent’s sperm. 

What is the Legal Position in Ireland?

Currently in Ireland there is no enacted legislation that addresses surrogacy as a pathway to parenthood. The General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017 (AHR Bill) was published by the Department of Health in October 2017. While the intention of such a bill includes providing a legal framework for domestic surrogacy, it has not yet progressed through the many significant steps of the normal legislative process. 

One noticeable inclusion in the proposals is a complete ban on commercial surrogacy with emphasis instead on payment of ‘reasonable expenses’ to the surrogate only which is a common approach in many countries that already allow for surrogacy. Some noticeable omissions of the current proposals are all foreign surrogacies and retrospective recognition for Irish children already born through surrogacy. These are matters which RFEN is committed to seeking to be included in any future legislation. 

Without this legislation, intending parents (particularly male couples) aren’t recognised as parents and male parents with a biological link aren’t automatically recognised as a parent. Such families may choose to consider obtaining guardianship for the second parent as a means to protect the family relationship while waiting for enactment of legislation in this area.