Why Irish Surrogacy Reform Must Address International Surrogacy

Irish lawmakers tasked with drafting reform legislation to legalize and regulate surrogacy and other types of assisted reproduction in Ireland are considering a draft that would completely ignore the rights of Irish intended parents and their infants born via surrogacy in other countries.

In my own upcoming testimony June 9 before the joint Oireachtas Committee on International Surrogacy, a committee created to advise the Irish legislature, I’ll be urging its members to consider the thousands of children and intended parents who will continue to be stuck in “legal limbo” under existing Irish laws governing citizenship and parentage, should they be left out of this new legislation.

 Long-standing campaign to legalize surrogacy in Ireland

Currently, there are no laws governing surrogacy in Ireland. A surrogate who gives birth, even though she is not genetically related to the child, is considered to be the child’s legal mother; if the surrogate is married, her husband is considered the child’s legal father. In order to establish parentage, the Irish intended father must prove via DNA testing that he is genetically related to the child and apply for a court order. The intended mother, even if her own genetics were used to conceive the child, does not have a legal path to establish her parentage, as The Irish Times reported.

Due to the lack of regulation and legal protections for surrogacy, most Irish citizens who choose to create families using surrogacy travel to countries with more favorable laws, such as the United States, to do so. For at least 1,000 such families now living in Ireland, their parental authority and, in some cases, children’s citizenship status, remain murky.

In a report last November, the Irish Examiner told the story of an Irish couple who traveled to India for surrogacy in 2015. Today, under existing Irish law regarding foreign surrogacy, the child’s legal parentage and Irish citizenship are based solely on the father’s genetics, and the proud mother of thriving 5-year-old twins has no legal parental rights. She cannot legally provide permission for a school field trip or make decisions for the twins in a life-threatening emergency. Should she and her husband divorce, he would have the right to sole custody.

New law to restrict intended parents’ eligibility for surrogacy in Ireland

Rather than prioritizing the rights of children to secure family relationships and citizenship, some Irish lawmakers want to deal with reforms governing international surrogacy separately, deferring the issue to a later time. Some believe the new law should disincentivize international surrogacy by making legal surrogacy in Ireland more accessible and attractive.

The problem is, even the proposed new legislation, while sorely needed, contains strict limitations on surrogacy arrangements, including banning compensated, or “commercial,” surrogacy. With its prohibition on payment to the surrogate for her time, inconvenience and physical discomfort, as well as strict screening criteria for surrogates, the new law would all but guarantee that the demand for Irish surrogates will exceed the supply. Those feeling an urgent desire to become parents, who have the means, are likely to continue pursuing surrogacy in other countries.

In addition to limiting surrogacy in Ireland to “altruistic,” or uncompensated, arrangements, the proposed new law requires that Irish surrogates must be at least 25, must have given birth at least once and may not serve as a surrogate more than twice.

In order to be eligible to participate in surrogacy legally, the new law would require that Irish intended parents be unable to conceive or be at medical risk from pregnancy and birth. At least one intended parent would have to be genetically related to the child. The surrogate would still be recognized as the child’s legal mother at birth, and the intended parents would be required to make a court application for parentage within a certain period after birth, as The Independent reported.

University College Cork law Professor Conor O’Mahony, appointed the Irish government’s Special Rapporteur on Child Protection in 2019, warns that leaving international surrogacy out of the reform legislation will infringe on the rights of children born abroad, the Examiner reports.

“At the moment [we] pretend surrogacy doesn’t exist, and have no legal regulation of it, leading to situations where children are born into families and cared for in a family where one or both parents have no legal connection to the child,” O'Mahony said. “In essence, we deny them the right to recognition of their family relationships…. We have a choice between continuing to do what we do now—which is leaving families in a legal twilight zone—or actually addressing it and putting in place safeguards that will protect children’s rights and safeguard the interests of all the other parties as well.”

Ireland’s current statutes on the parentage of children born via surrogacy abroad are contrary to a 2014 decision of the European Court of Human Rights: The court ruled that France must recognize the parentage of French intended parents who are genetically related to their babies born via surrogacy in other countries.

As we reported then, “The ECHR, which acts under authority of the European Convention on Human Rights enacted by the Council of Europe in 1950, ruled that while France has the right to ban surrogate parenthood within its boundaries, it does not have the right to deny legal status to the parent-child relationships of children and their parents just because a surrogate carried and delivered the children.”

Our colleagues who have campaigned so long for legalized surrogacy in Ireland are thrilled that intended parents may soon be able to create families via surrogacy without traveling to a foreign country to do so. But opening that door without offering a legal path for the parents of babies born abroad to establish parental authority would be a harmful omission and a gross miscarriage of justice for hundreds of families. That’s why I’ll be raising my voice to urge Irish lawmakers to affirm the rights of all Irish children to legal citizenship and secure family relationships, without the expense and lengthy delays of extensive legal proceedings.

For information about Irish surrogacy laws and the process for Irish intended parents who opt for surrogacy in the United States, please see the informative webinar produced in collaboration with Irish surrogacy attorney Annette Hickey of Poe Kiely Hogan Lanigan Solicitors LLP, or contact our experienced team of fertility lawyers and paralegals at International Fertility Law Group.





Richard Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn is founder and principal of International Fertility Law Group, one of the world’s largest and best-known law firms focused exclusively on assisted reproductive technology, or ART, including in vitro fertilization (IVF), surrogacy, sperm donation or egg donation. Rich is co-author of the book “Developing A Successful Assisted Reproduction Technology Law Practice,” American Bar Association Publishing, 2017.

Peiya Wang
Paralegal (律师助理)

Peiya Wang joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2015, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases and provides translation services for many of IFLG’s international clients. Peiya moved to the United States in 2012 to attend Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, receiving a Master of Science degree in Global Studies and International Affairs in 2014. Peiya moved to Los Angeles in 2015, received her paralegal certification from UCLA Extension, and obtained her second Master of Science degree in Legal Studies from Loyola Law School. Peiya relocated back to her hometown, Beijing, China in 2019 and works from IFLG’s Beijing office. When away from the office, Peiya is a dragon boat paddler and a ballroom dancer, where she favors Rumbas and Cha-chas. She is fluent in Mandarin and English.

Luis Sosa

Luis R. Sosa joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2016, where he enjoys pursuing his passion for family and reproductive law. While working toward his bachelor’s degree at Florida International University which he received in 2013, Luis worked as a paralegal and legal assistant for family law litigation firms in Miami and Washington, D.C. As a paralegal and case manager for IFLG, Luis, who is bilingual in English and Spanish, manages surrogacy, egg donation and other reproductive law cases. Luis has worked for IFLG in both Los Angeles as well as San Francisco, and is currently based in Dallas, Texas. In addition to spending time with husband Randy and dog Marty, Luis enjoys being outdoors and appreciating the arts.

Toni Hughes

After receiving her B.S. in Business Management, Toni joined IFLG to pursue her dream of working in the legal field. As a Paralegal with over 10 years of experience in the assisted reproduction technology field, Toni is our Managing Paralegal, responsible for training and managing our paralegal staff. From drafting legal documents to assisting our clients with post-birth matters, Toni embraces the challenge of learning something new in this field each day. Besides spending time with her son, Jordan, Toni enjoys exploring new things, cooking, spending time with family and friends, and serving as a Youth Advisor for “Next Generation.”


Kim has over 30 years of experience in the legal field and has worked exclusively in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 1999. Kim is a senior case manager responsible for managing parental establishment cases and interacting with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorneys across the country. With three children of her own, Kim understands the importance of family and finds working in this area of law a rewarding experience.

Rich Vaughn

Attorney Rich Vaughn combined his personal passion as a father of twin boys born via assisted reproductive technology (ART) with more than 20 years of experience in business and technology law to build International Fertility Law Group. Today IFLG is one of the most successful and best-known law firms in the world focused exclusively on fertility law, helping thousands of intended parents through empathetic listening, compassionate guidance, and unmatched legal expertise. As an advocate for reproductive freedom, Rich also contributes his knowledge and time to improving the understanding and practice of ART law, most recently as a founder of and speaker at the first Cambridge University International Surrogacy Symposium held in June 2019, as immediate past chair of the American Bar Association ART Committee, and as a popular presenter to law schools, faculty and advocacy organizations all over the world.

Elizabeth Tamayo

Elizabeth received her Bachelors of Science degree in Criminal Justice from California State University of Los Angeles. Shortly after graduating, she continued her education at the University of California, Los Angeles where she obtained her Paralegal certificate. Elizabeth is fluent in Spanish and has been in the legal field since 2009. She is excited to be a part of the IFLG Team helping families realize their dreams.

Sunny Chien

Sunny joined IFLG as a paralegal in 2017, where she manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s international clients. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from California State University of Los Angeles, where she graduated cum laude. Sunny is bilingual in English and Mandarin and has extensive experience as a legal assistant and paralegal at Los Angeles-area law firms. She is excited to be part of the IFLG team. In her spare time, Sunny enjoys spending time with her family and their dog, going to the beach, cooking, and being outdoors.

Los Angeles

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Phone:  +1 323 331 9343

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Website:  www.iflg.net

New York

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New York, NY 10017

Phone:  +1 844 400 2016

Email:  info@iflg.net

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Molly O'Brien

Fertility law attorney Molly O’Brien began working in the field of assisted reproduction technology (ART) in 2005, at an egg donation agency and a surrogacy agency where she became familiar with all aspects of in-vitro fertilization, egg donation and the financial aspects of surrogacy. Since becoming an attorney in 2011, Molly has drafted and negotiated surrogacy, egg donation, sperm donation embryo donation agreements for hundreds of her clients all over the world.

Phoebe Sadler

Fertility law attorney Phoebe Sadler has a background in family law and has been practicing exclusively in the area of assisted reproduction technology (ART) law since 2018.

Rubina Aslanyan

Rubina has an extensive background in the legal field as a paralegal in Family Law and has worked in surrogacy and assisted reproduction law since 2012. Her area of focus is in managing and assisting clients with surrogacy, egg donation, and parental establishment cases for many of IFLG’s domestic and international clients. During her spare time, Rubina enjoys spending time with her family and dog Bella, traveling and cooking.

Alexander Espinoza
Legal Assistant

Alexander joined IFLG as a legal assistant in 2019, where he manages surrogacy, egg donation and parental establishment cases. Alex is bilingual in English and Spanish and has been in the legal field for 23 years. Alex is excited to join the IFLG team and pursuing his will to help others in the reproductive law process. In his spare time he loves spending time with his family and friends, being outdoors, road trips, loves music and dancing.

Cara Stecker
Senior Paralegal

After receiving her paralegal certificate in 2005, Cara began working in assisted reproductive law. During the fifteen years Cara has worked in this field, she has gained a wide range of experience and knowledge that she uses to help better assist clients and those involved in the assisted reproductive journey. Cara’s primary roles involve managing parental establishment matters and coordination with IFLG’s Of Counsel attorney network, drafting contracts and parental establishment court documents and providing support to other team members. Cara finds great joy in being a small part of a team of caring people who help others achieve their dream of having a family. In her spare time, Cara enjoys spending time with her husband and three children, watching her children play the sports they love, and she enjoys, running, cycling and exploring the outdoors in the sun.

Stephanie Kimble

Stephanie received her BS in History and Political Thought from Concordia University Irvine in 2015 and her Paralegal Certificate from University of San Diego later that same year. She has been working as a Paralegal since 2016 in Family and Reproductive Law. She is excited to be part of International Fertility Law Group working on managing Surrogacy, Egg donation and Parental Establishment Cases.

Trish Pittman
Assistant Financial Coordinator

With more than 20 years of experience in the field of accounting, Trish joined the IFLG team in 2019 as Assistant Financial Coordinator. Her client-facing focus at IFLG is to assist with all client trust accounting. Trish is the mother of two daughters and enjoys spending time teaching and learning new things from them. In her free time, she loves long walks in the park and reading suspense and mystery novels.

Katie Deaquino
Senior Paralegal

Katie is a Senior Paralegal with IFLG and has dedicated over sixteen years to the areas of surrogacy and reproductive law. She received her Paralegal Certificate from Coastline Community College and has worked with some of the top law firms in the assisted reproduction community. Katie is also a commissioned Notary Public. With IFLG, Katie manages Surrogacy, Egg Donation, and Parental Establishment cases and provides support to other IFLG team members. Katie truly enjoys helping others build their families through assisted reproduction and is thankful she has had the rewarding experience of assisting IFLG clients. Katie often spends her free time with her Husband, four young children and her bulldog “Bella”.

Elsa Jimenez
Legal Assistant

Elsa joined IFLG as a Legal Assistant in 2019, bringing more than 35 years of experience working in the legal profession (concentrating in tort and litigation matters). At IFLG she assists surrogates with their surrogacy and parental matters. The oldest of five siblings, born and raised in East Los Angeles to Mexican immigrant parents, Elsa loves “seeing the beauty of families forming” through assisted reproductive technology. She and her husband Carlos have four children and one grandson. Elsa enjoys jazz and ’80s music, being outdoors in nature, collecting teacups and tea pots, and spending time with her close-knit family.