The new assisted reproduction legislation will allow the use of sperm or eggs from a deceased person. Fatherless children will be created intentionally.

The Irish government has approved the publication of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2022 that will legislate for issues such as IVF, gametes donation, surrogacy. The Bill is extremely problematic from an ethical point of view. For instance, it provides for posthumous assisted reproduction, which is the use of gametes (sperm or eggs) of a deceased person.

The final text of the Bill is not available yet but, based the previous draft, posthumous assisted reproduction will be permitted if a person has consented to use his sperm or her eggs when dead. The law will also allow those gametes to be retrieved from the body of the dead person, if necessary, when the person has consented to it in advance. Only the surviving partner of the deceased person can use the gamete, according to the Bill, and only after one year from the death.

This raises important ethical question. (It also complicates and delays the administration of estates on death )

How is it in the interest of children to be deliberately conceived when their father or mother is already dead? The whole Bill favours and accommodates the desires of the adults over the child’s best interest.

What is even more shocking is that the law permits the use of the gametes of a dead person together with gametes coming from a sperm donor or an egg donor. This means that not only one of the parents is already dead before the child is even conceived, but the child will be separated also by the other genetic parent. So, it will be legal for someone who is not even genetically related to the child to decide to create an orphan. How can this be in the best interest of the child?

No one should have a right to deliberately generate an orphan and this the reason why posthumous assisted reproduction is banned in many European countries such as France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, Finland, Hungary.  But Ireland has taken the most liberal and adult-centred approach, avoiding any debate on the morality of such arrangements.

The same could be said about many other provisions of this new law, such as surrogacy for example.

According to the new law, the person who uses the gametes of her deceased partner must be a woman, as she has to carry the pregnancy.  This means that this provision will be used mainly by women using their dead partner’s sperm but nothing prevents a woman in a lesbian relationship from using the eggs of her deceased partner and carry the pregnancy herself. In this way, the resulting child will be denied both biological parents and will be intentionally created and brought up by someone with whom she, or he, has no genetic connection.

Again, how is this in the best interest of a child?