Press release by The Iona Institute Government’s surrogacy guidelines must not ‘split’ motherhood or exploit women

Press release by The
Iona Institute

surrogacy guidelines must not ‘split’ motherhood or exploit

November 25, 2011
Minister Alan Shatter is planning to issue guidelines next month concerning the
issue of surrogacy. Indications are that the guidelines will adopt a very
permissive attitude towards the issue and ignore the major ethical concerns
about surrogate motherhood. 

on the matter on behalf of The Iona Institute Breda O’Brien called on the
Government to properly consider these concerns before issuing the

said: While everyone
rightly has sympathy for people who cannot have children of their own,
nevertheless, surrogacy
raises two
very important ethical concerns. The first is that surrogacy is almost
inherently exploitative in that it often involves better-off couples renting the
wombs of poorer women. It’s no accident that the recent cases in the news have
involved Irish couples using Indian women. These women from
the developing world are expected to abandon all maternal instinct, which
reduces them to little more than breeding machines.”

continued: “The second big concern is that, in the words of the German
Government, it splits motherhood between a genetic and biological mother, and
maybe even a social mother. This creates potentially serious identity issues for
the child.

is because of concerns like these that countries such as Germany, Austria, Italy
and Norway ban the practice of egg donation and therefore, in effect, of surrogacy.”

O’Brien concluded: “Recently the European Court of Human Rights found that bans
on egg and sperm donation are not in breach of the European Convention on Human
Rights. (See note 3 below). The Irish Government should carefully consider the
laws in countries like Austria and Germany with a view to copying them. These
laws properly protect women from exploitation as well as the rights of children.
What the Government appears to be proposing will do neither. Instead, it should
regularise the status of children already born through surrogacy, and ban the
practice hereafter.”


Notes to

1.     The Iona Institute is
a pro-marriage organisation.

2.     Breda O’Brien is the
author of The Iona Institute position paper, ‘Making Babies: Towards
child-centred view of Assisted Human Reproduction’.

3.     The case before the
ECHR was called S.H and Others v Austria. Germany intervened in the case and
said its ban placing inside a woman an egg not produced by her is “intended
to protect the child’s welfare by ensuring the unambiguous identity of the
mother. Splitting motherhood into a genetic and a biological mother would result
in two women having a part in the creation of a child”.

continues: “Split motherhood is contrary to the child’s welfare because the
resulting ambiguity of the mother’s identity might jeopardise the development of
the child’s personality and lead to considerable problems in his or her
discovery of identity.”