'At least 57' babies born abroad for Irish couples through surrogates
AT least 57 children have been born abroad through a surrogate mother and brought back to Ireland since 2008, new figures reveal.
The statistics are based on the number of emergency travel certificates which the new parents must apply for in order to take the baby home, depending on the country where the surrogacy took place.
It is understood that a number of these were twins and triplets and were part of 43 Irish families.
Most Irish people who use commercial surrogacy arrangements abroad go to India or the United States.
In order to bring the child home from India, they have to get an emergency travel certificate for the baby and the father has to prove by DNA evidence that he is the child's father. The consent must also be obtained from the surrogate mother.
The father has to provide undertakings to the Irish authorities that he will inform the Health Service Executive (HSE) two days after getting back to Ireland that he has brought the child back to the State and make an application for a declaration of parentage and guardianship within two weeks.
Surrogacy in India costs around €30,000 but it is as high as €120,000 in the United States.
Children born through surrogacy in the United States get a passport so authorities here are less likely to know the birth circumstances of the child.
The figures come in the wake of proposals announced by Health Minister Leo Varadkar to start drawing up legislation governing fertility treatments including surrogacy.
It will be allowed here on an altruistic basis but any commercial agreement involving payment will be banned.
Due to the lack of legislation relating to surrogacy currently, individuals availing of surrogacy within Ireland are under no obligation to report this information.
Therefore, there are no exact figures available for domestic surrogacy in Ireland.
However, there is anecdotal evidence that such surrogacy arrangements are entered into here already - for example, the recent Supreme Court surrogacy case in 2014.
In that case, a woman acted as surrogate for her sister, giving birth to twins.
When the legislation is finally in place, well into next year or beyond, fertility clinics here will have to provide detailed information about the common procedures they perform, such as IVF, in order to monitor the safety, quality and outcomes.
The research to date however suggests that the treatments currently offered by fertility facilities here are very safe and complications are well within acceptable European norms.
The European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE) collates statistics in relation to fertility procedures carried out in European Union countries. Data for Ireland shows that in 2010 there were 1,856 cycles of IVF and 1,320 cycles of ICSI which involves injecting sperm into the egg and is useful where a man has a low sperm count.
In 2009 there were 1,987 IVF cycles and 1,328 ICSI cycles.