A Fine Gael local election candidate has spoken of how she decided to become a surrogate for her friends.
Becky Loftus Dore from Killucan, Co Westmeath, is a mother of four children, including twins conceived through IVF, and is 35 weeks pregnant with a boy.
The 42-year-old, who is standing in the Kinnegad electoral area in the local elections on May 24th, said the idea of becoming a surrogate was arrived at after talking to close friends about the difficulties they were encountering in having a child.
She sought advice through Facebook groups from women in the UK who had also been surrogates, and asked others who had gone through the experience what it was like to hand over a baby.
“Their response was: it’s such a different journey. And they are so right. This journey has been so different to any of my own. My husband and I aren’t sitting in bed talking about names. We are not talking to the bump.”
She received standard IVF treatment in Cyprus, and has since gone through a normal pre-birth programme.
“When we go into scans and there is the heartbeat or whatever, I look to them. I am watching their face,” she said of her friends.
However, she cautioned that "surrogacy" is a "very, very delicate situation" in Ireland until legislation takes effect.
After birth the baby will stay in hospital for 24 hours until it is taken home by its parents. Ms Loftus Dore will remain on for further treatment.
“The only reason that I entered into this was because we were lifelong friends, and there was a huge amount of trust in both of us because as soon as the baby is born, because I am married, both myself and my husband have full legal custody of my child. They don’t have anything even though genetically there is a connection there.
“The process you have to go through is that as soon as the baby is born, you have to go to the Family Courts, for my husband to say ‘no, it is not my child.’ The father then of the prospective parents to say ‘no, it is my child.’ There is joint custody. I am still the legal mother for two years, for two years at the moment.
“You don’t know whether people are going to switch or change. A woman could form a bond and say ‘no, I want to keep it’.”
Ms Loftus Dore told her story to Will Faulkner on Midlands 103 radio on Thursday. She cautioned people against choosing surrogacy in Ireland unless a family member or close friend has agreed to be the surrogate. There is currently no legislation in place in Ireland governing assisted human reproduction.
The Assisted Human Reproduction Bill is currently the subject of pre-legislative scrutiny, and Minister for Health Simon Harris has said that, once enacted, it will work with sections two and three of the Children and Family Relationships Bill, which passed through the Oireachtas prior to the same-sex marriage referendum in 2015.
It amended Irish family law to extend parental rights to “non-traditional” families, but sections two and three, which deal with donor-assisted reproduction, have yet to be take effect.