NISIG has long campaigned for legislation in the area of AHR; Helen Browne, co-founder of NISIG, was part of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction 13 years ago which recommended that laws were needed to safeguard the rights of parents and children and to establish a regulatory body to regulate AHR services in Ireland. So, legislation in the area is long overdue!

NISIG were therefore delighted to be invited to attend the Assisted Human Reproduction pre-legislative hearing by the Joint Committee on Health in December last year. At the hearing itself there were several other speakers including Deirdre Madden (UCC), an expert in the area of surrogacy law, Nóirín Hayes, an early education expert (TCD) and Emma O’Friel and Joanna Rose who were there on behalf of donor conceived people.

Gillian Keegan and Marian Barnard, chairperson, arrived at the Dáil on the morning of Wednesday the 19th of December, looking forward to representing the views of our membership and all those on the journey to have a family. NISIG’s opening statement detailed areas of concern including the need for public funding both domestically and hopefully abroad for fertility treatments and requesting clarification on the number of cycles to be funded. In addition, we focused on the desperate need for regulation in the area of surrogacy, stressing that any legislation should reflect the reality that nearly all surrogacy arrangements take place outside of Ireland.

Subsequent to this hearing, there was an announcement by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar in early January that the Assisted Reproduction Bill is now unlikely to be enacted in 2019. Following this announcement NISIG has responded robustly, emphasising that the legislation is desperately needed, and we will continue to push for this over the coming months. We would urge all our members to contact their local TDs in relation to the legislation, the need for it to be enacted in a timely manner and the need for adequate public funding to be made available. We will keep you updated on progress over the coming months.

For more information on this pre-legislative process, see https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/search/?q=pre-legislative+hearing+on+ahr