Iona Institute opposed to parts of Assisted Human Reproduction Bill
Oireachtas committee told children could potentially have same father and ‘uncle’
The Iona Institute says the prohibition in the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill on close family members donating their sperm does not go far enough. Photograph: Getty Images
The Iona Institute has claimed the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill may lead to women seeking sperm from their cousins and brother-in-laws, and potentially children having the same father and “uncle”.
In a submission to the Oireachtas Committee on Health, the organisation, which also opposes repeal of the Eighth Amendment, outlines its opposition to aspects of the legislation which bans commercial surrogacy and regulates the donation of egg and sperm.
The correspondence, seen by The Irish Times, said the prohibition on close family members donating their sperm contained in the legislation does not go far enough. It does not exclude other blood relations, for example first cousins, or relations by marriage, for example, brothers and sisters-in-law, the institute says.
“If the sperm of a brother-in-law was used, the ‘uncle’ of the child would, in fact, be the biological father. Is it fair on the child that the one person is both the ‘uncle’ and the biological father of the same child?
“It is unprecedented in human history to deliberately blur the roles of the different members of a family in this way, and therefore the definition of ‘close family members’ needs to be broadened to include members by marriage as well,” the submission reads.
The institute says the proposed legislation, which is at pre-legislative scrutiny stage, for donor conception devalues the importance of the natural ties between the donor and the child.
It believes it must be made as easy as possible for donor-conceived children to find their genetic kin, both their genetic donor-parents and genetic half-siblings.
“We can also see how adult-centred the scheme is by the way it treats the issue of family structure, that is the form of family the child will be raised in. Will the child be headed by a married opposite-sex couple, a married same-sex couple, a cohabiting couple (opposite-sex or same-sex), a single man, or a single woman?
“The underlying philosophy of the scheme is that the number of parents, the sex of the parents, and whether they are married or not is entirely irrelevant to the welfare of the child,” the submission reads.
The legislation is being considered by the Oireachtas committee, and it has asked for submissions on the proposals contained within. The Irish Times has only seen a small number of the submissions as they have not been published yet.
The Human Life International Ireland, a group based in Mayo, outlined its opposition the in vitro fertilisation (IVF) in its submission. Director Patrick McCrystal said IVF was “gravely immoral” and an affront to human dignity.
“Ministers and elective representatives simply do not have the authority to legislate for the creation of human beings in a petri dish. Human beings are sacred, made in the image and likeness of God, and endowed with and eternal soul. There are serious implications for everyone involved.”