The Joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy has made 32 recommendations following a three-month examination of international surrogacy in Ireland.
It recommends that the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill, which is currently before the Oireachtas, is the most appropriate legislation to deal with international surrogacy as it has the most appropriate legislative framework in place.
The report states that any separate surrogacy legislation, whether covering solely international or both domestic and international, is likely to take significantly longer to be introduced than including international surrogacy with the AHR Bill.
It suggests the establishment of a National Surrogacy Register and that the Health (Assisted Human Reproduction) Bill 2022 should be amended, so that following the issuing of a parental order, the intended parents of a child born through surrogacy should have access to the information stored on a National Surrogacy Register, on behalf of the child, until the child reaches the age of 12.
When a child born through surrogacy reaches the age of 12, the report suggests that they should be entitled to access their information stored in the National Surrogacy Register themselves.
The Minister for Health has described the report by the committee as "thoughtful and balanced".
Stephen Donnelly said the findings and recommendations would need to be discussed with colleagues and at Cabinet level.
He noted that many recommendations relate to the Department of Justice, rather than the Department of Health; therefore he said he would discuss it with ministers.
Speaking to parents of children who were born through international surrogacy who were outside the Dáil this afternoon, Minister Donnelly acknowledged that the report called for "a resolution for the children and parents in Ireland today".
The Minister acknowledged that there are complex issues involved and many countries do not legislate for international surrogacy.
He said there would be a lot of work involved in turning the report into legislation, into regulations and into a reality.
However, he said he looked forward to sitting down with colleagues and "bringing this forward".
Lack of regulation
Committee chairperson, Jennifer Whitmore of the Social Democrats, said it would be a real missed opportunity if international surrogacy is not included in the AHR bill.
She said, "just because it's a complex issue", should not deter it being included in the AHR bill.
The lack of regulation in the area is the biggest risk to children and surrogates, she said.
The committee says it believes that the regulation and recognition of international surrogacy needs to be instituted as quickly as possible.
The committee has acknowledged that the State has no control over actions undertaken by individuals in other countries.
It has also been noted that individuals and couples will continue to travel abroad to pursue international surrogacy arrangements.
The committee has said there was significant agreement among the witnesses that the biggest risk to the welfare and rights of children, surrogates and intended parents currently is the lack of regulation by the State.
It says a statement of financial arrangements anticipated within the compensates surrogacy arrangement should be included in the surrogacy arrangement to the Assisted Human Reproduction Regulatory Authority.
It recommends that intended parents should be able to apply to the courts for a parental order in respect of both parents.
It also suggests that the parental order shall name the surrogates, declaring the severance of any parental relationship with the child and removing all parental duties and responsibilities prescribed by statute or otherwise.