Rights groups secure permission to make arguments in surrogacy appeal

Surpeme Court sits for first time as an all-woman court


Both the Irish Human Rights Commission and the Equality Authority have secured permission from the Supreme Court to make arguments in a landmark appeal concerning the rights of all those involved when children are born under surrogacy arrangements.

Among the issues the commission wants to address are the personal rights, including to identity, of children born to surrogates, while the authority believes it can be of assistance arising from its work on broader surrogacy rights issues.

For the first time in its history, the Supreme Court sat yesterday as an all-woman court, comprising the Chief Justice, Ms Justice Susan Denham, and two new appointees to the court — Ms Justice Mary Laffoy and Ms Justice Elizabeth Dunne.

The court was dealing with applications by both agencies for permission to make submissions on legal issues arising in the State’s appeal against a High Court decision that a genetic mother of twins born to a surrogate could be named as the legal mother on the birth certificate of her children.

There was no opposition to yesterday’s applications but lawyers for the parents and State stressed they remained anxious the joining of the two bodies should not delay or lengthen the appeal, expected to be heard over two days next January.

This is the first time the Equality Authority has sought to be joined to a Supreme Court appeal as an amicus curiae – assistant to the court on legal issues.

Ms Butler said the authority’s interest arose from its historic involvement in surrogacy issues and it wished to be of assistance in helping resolve those. There was “a lack of reality” to the State’s concern no issues should be canvassed related to the Equal Status Act on grounds they were not issues in the High Court.

Giving the court’s decision, the Chief Justice said the court would join the commission and authority as amici curiae but they must confine submissions to the issues raised in the High Court and Supreme Court appeal.