Tuesday 25 October 2016

Families hit out over 'No' campaign poster criticising surrogacy

David Kearns

Published 23/04/2015 | 12:57

The poster is among three that will be posted up by the group 'Mothers & Fathers Matter'
The poster is among three that will be posted up by the group 'Mothers & Fathers Matter'

A No campaign poster declaring that a child needs its mother “for life, not just nine months” has raised the ire of parents of adopted children, who said its message was “deeply offensive".

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The poster from the ‘Mothers & Fathers Matter’ campaign group appeared in areas of Dublin this week, and shows a photo of a toddler along with the banner “Surrogacy?” and the message “She needs her mother for life, not just for nine months—vote No”.

Speaking to Independent.ie, mother-of-two Teresa Byrne said she had been “deeply insulted” when she saw the posters.

“To say that just because you carry a child for nine months makes you their mother is an absurd suggestion… and one that is deeply offensive to anyone that has raised children not biologically their own.”

“The poster is nonsense – it implies that surrogacy is simply for same-sex couples. There are many parents, myself included, that have had children thanks to the help of other people.”

“To say that I am not the mother of my children because I could not biologically carry them is an insulting suggestion, and one that is clearly aimed at shaming families that do not conform to this group’s narrow view of what constitutes a family.”

Defending the poster, a spokesperson for 'Mother & Fathers Matter' said “if the referendum passes same-sex married couples will likewise have a constitutional right to procreate.”

“[As] they can only procreate through donor assisted human reproduction and, in the case of men, surrogacy… it is very possible that surrogacy will be seen as part of a same-sex couple’s constitutional right to procreate.”

“In such case the Constitution will endorse as a “right” a child having a biological mother and a birth mother but being left legally and socially motherless for the rest of her life.”

The group said its volunteers would be erecting posters over the next two weeks in every constituency.

Helen, a mother-of-four adopted children, however, told Independent.ie that the attempts to link surrogacy with the same-sex referendum was a “red herring”.

“No, it’s worse than that – it is about creating a bogey man to scare people into thinking suddenly every same-sex couple will be having children.”

“We’re being asked to vote on same-sex marriage, not adoption or surrogacy rights,” said Helen.

“No one has the right to have children – marriage doesn’t not entitled you to a child.”

“Too many people campaigning forget that same-sex couples just want to love and be loved. They don’t want any more rights than what everyone else has.”

The Referendum Commission confirmed to Independent.ie that it had “received a number of calls from individuals complaining about the poster.”

“As there are no laws in relation to what can be said in a debate, so it is not surprising for each side to say the other is wrong,” said a spokesperson for the Commission.

Adding, that if voters wanted “impartial information” they should contact the referendum body as “it does not involve itself in debates between campaigning groups”.

The Commission said it would consider issuing a statement clarifying surrogacy as it relates to the same sex marriage referendum.

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