Saturday 21 October 2017

Genetic mother cannot be registered in surrogacy case, court hears

A GENETIC mother cannot be registered on her child's birth certificate should the infant be born to a surrogate mother, the High Court heard today.

Kieran Feely, the Registrar General, who is the chief officer in charge of the registers of birth, deaths and marriages, told the court the policy in Ireland is that the name of the woman who gave birth to a child, and not the genetic mother, is the name placed on the child's birth certificate.

The application of this policy was advantageous and brought certainty, he said.

Mr Feely was giving evidence in a case involving a couple who want their names included on the birth certs of two children. The surrogate mother is supporting the couple's application, which was refused by the office of Registrar General in 2011.

The Attorney General and the Office of the Registrar General are opposing the action, which commenced earlier this week.

The parties involved in the case cannot be identified by order of Mr Justice Henry Abbott who is hearing the case.

The court further ordered that evidence given by the parties themselves cannot be reported on.

Mr Feely's evidence was given during the first section of the case where reporting, subject to strict conditions, has been permitted by the court.

Mr Feely told his counsel Mary O'Toole SC that he was told by his predecessor that the policy in relation to surrogacy was to have the birth mother's name on the birth certificate.

He said applications to have the genetic mother's name included on the birth cert are rare. He had only come across the current application and one other since taking up his current role in 2004.

He first became aware of the current situation when an application was made to have the names of the father and the genetic mother included on the birth certs, as opposed to the birth mother name.

He said that he only was made aware of the children's genetic inheritance in 2010 when Marian Campbell, solicitor for the genetic parents, wrote to his office seeking a correction under provisions of the Civil Registration Act asking for an error be corrected on the birth certs, and that the genetic mother's name be included.

DNA evidence and a letter from a clinic, confirming the children's genetic parents were also submitted in support of their application.

Mr Feely said that the application raised a matter of "fundamental importance" which merited an investigation by him. However in June

2011 he wrote to the applicants informing that based on legal advice tendered to his he was unable to accede to their request.

The applicants were further informed that there was no legal basis on which the birth certificates of the applicants could be changed to include the genetic mother's name.

He said there would be an "enormous amount of uncertainty" if DNA evidence was required as part of the processes used in the issuing of a birth cert. There are 75,000 births in Ireland every year then, and there would considerable expense involved if DNA evidence was required to certify births.

The case continues next week.

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