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Press release 17/02/2015

Mothers and Fathers Matter issued a press release on 17 February as the legislation was presented to the cabinet and approved to be brought before the Dáil. A copy of the press release is reproduced below.

Mothers and Fathers Matter

Children and Family Bill must give preference to motherhood and fatherhood

The Children and Family Relationships (CFR) Bill is to be presented to Cabinet today.

While there are good aspects to the Bill (improved guardianship rights for unmarried fathers for example), we believe it must be radically amended to give preference to motherhood and fatherhood in our adoption law and also in laws concerning IVF and other forms of Assisted Human Reproduction (AHR).

In its present form the proposed legislation: 

– Destroys the preference for motherhood and fatherhood in adoption and in other laws

– Intentionally disrupts the natural ties between parents and children

– Undermines the special status of marriage in the Constitution

– The Bill in effect commodifies children and puts the wants of adults before the needs of children

The government gives the impression that the law simply regulates existing family relationships by giving them a legal form. In fact, the law creates an almost absolute ‘right’ to produce a child via artificial means and an extremely wide ‘right’ for adults to adopt children, regardless of marital status or whether the child’s fundamental right to a mother and father will be respected.

The Bill, if enacted in its present form, would promote arrangements where children are intentionally denied either a mother or a father. This perspective is based on adults’ wishes and not on the best interests of the child, including its fundamental relationship with its genetic parents.

The proposed legislation authorises adults to deprive a child of a connection to either his/her natural mother or natural father where those adults use donor sperm or a donor egg to have a child. Using donor gametes to have a child effectively commodifies children by allowing adults in effect to ‘order them’, even to particular specifications.

In a retreat from an earlier draft, the new Bill prohibits anonymous egg and sperm donation. This gives a child the right to know their natural parents when they reach age 18. But it means they have no right to a relationship with their missing natural parent as they grow up and even when they reach 18, their natural parent may refuse them such a relationship.

Mothers and Fathers Matter asks Government, and individual TD’s, to amend the Bill to take proper account of the natural ties and to protect children’s right to a relationship with their natural parents which, in every case, will be their mother and their father.

Mothers and Fathers Matter Chairman, Professor Ray Kinsella said: “We believe this legislation seriously undermines the rights of children. It is extraordinary that a Government, which professes to be pro-child, would seek to push legislation through the Dail that treats the natural tie, and by extension the complementarity of motherhood and fatherhood, in such a dismissive fashion’’

He continued: “We should have learnt the lessons of the past by now. We know the pain it can cause to children when they do not know their natural parents. The Government should do what it can to spare children this pain rather than inflicting it on them. Prohibiting anonymous egg and sperm donation does not properly protect the rights of children. Egg and sperm donation should be legally prohibited.

“Adoption law should seek, whenever possible, to place children with a married mother and father. Only in exceptional circumstances should this preference, which common sense confirms is in the best interests of the child, be set aside. The proposed Bill goes against this. It allows individuals living in a whole spectrum of relationships to adopt.  It is difficult to understand how the government has managed to convinced itself that this does not impact negatively on children. It further confirms that government does not attach any special importance either to marriage or to motherhood and fatherhood.”

He concluded: “Common sense, as well as our Constitution, acknowledges the place of mothers and fathers in conceiving, nurturing and raising children. We should not be legislating to subvert this most basic entitlement of a child. Legislators have an enormous responsibility to oppose the ideology behind this Bill and to press for its amendment”

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