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Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018\Second Stage
Bills\Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018\Second Stage

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Children and Family Relationships (Amendment) Bill 2018

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Snippet Contents:

I concur with everything that has been said. I will seek to add to it. In a year in which the family is being celebrated by both Pride and the Pope, it is ironic that we are just catching up and putting proper structures on the families of same-sex couples. I know the Minister recognises that there is a problem. I spoke to him a short time ago. He is not accepting our amendment, which we will press. I am sure the Minister of State, Deputy Jim Daly, will explain why the Minister is not accepting it. Many same-sex couples are concerned that our amendment will have an impact on the Bill. I assure them that if the amendment is accepted, the only impact it will have will be a positive one. If it is rejected, it will have no impact whatsoever on the Bill. There should be no worries about that.
Like Deputy Paul Murphy, I want to mention the case of a couple that falls into this category. Stephanie and Bex have a daughter, Eva. They live in Roscommon. Stephanie, who is the birth mother, suffers from an arthritic condition which is worsened by treatment with hormones. Her doctor recommended that she should not go to the clinic. He said she should stay at home to have home insemination carried out. Stephanie and Bex know the donor. Under the legal contract they have drawn up with the donor, he waives all commitments and any obligation to the child. They do not hold him responsible for maintenance or anything of that nature. When Eva reaches the age of 18, she will be free to seek him out and he will be happy to meet her at that point. That is all set out in a legal agreement that has been drafted by both sides. Stephanie and Bex are left in a difficult situation. I can only feel for them. When the health of a woman who has a small child is compromised to the extent that she is receiving treatment, there has to be a worry that her demise might leave the other parent and the child in limbo. As previous speakers have said, in circumstances in which a birth mother is ill there is a possibility that her health will become more compromised. We hope that women in these circumstances do well and these issues do not come into play. The woman in this case needs to do well with her mental health and with her lifestyle. If that is to happen, she needs the same protections that this legislation attempts to give to all other same-sex couples.
Another cohort of couples will stay at home for insemination because of the cost of going to these clinics. They cannot afford the €1,500 that is needed to make each effort. Their economic circumstances prohibit them from being recognised by the State as a family. Gay couples who have opted for home insemination and gay couples who have gone through surrogacy are not recognised. For all of these reasons, we believe our amendment would strengthen the hand of the Minister and the committee, rather than weakening it. That is why we propose that a report be prepared within six months of the Bill being passed.
We do not want to leave anyone behind. In this Chamber, we talk a lot about equality. The Taoiseach talks a lot about being the leader of an Ireland of equal opportunities. This legislation denies such equality to a cohort of parents and their children. I plead with the Minister of State to accept our amendment. If he does not do so, I plead with Deputies on all sides of the House to vote for it. The amendment will not harm the overall Bill. All it will do is strengthen the future work of the committee as it seeks to deal with surrogacy, legacy issues and retrospective parenting. I have mentioned the sad and compelling case of Stephanie and Bex. There are others who cannot afford treatment in the clinics. I ask Deputies to support this amendment. It will not damage the overall Bill we have before us tonight.