The General Scheme of the Assisted Human Reproduction Bill 2017
1) [Head 10 of PART 2 GENERAL PRINCIPLES, pp. 26–27] The General Scheme ignores the Constitution and statute law, as they are at present, in relation to the status of human embryo. While it is true that the Supreme Court in Roche –v- Roche & ors [15/12/2009] ruled that the ‘unborn’ of Article 40.3.3° does not protect human embryos conceived in vitro, that is ‘on glass’, their ruling is no longer the law of the land, as the statute law has been changed significantly since then, with the passing of the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014 [the 2014 Act].
2) In Interpretation 2. (1) of the 2014 Act the human foetus is recognized as a human person. Not only that, but that Act endorses the well-established practice of DNA testing. The DNA of the individual human being is set down at fertilization. That means that the State, since 2014, has recognized, not only that the human foetus is a human person, but as individual human life begins at fertilization, the human being is a human person starting from fertilization.
3) The DNA test is practically 100% accurate in pinning a crime on a particular culprit, and to my knowledge, not one such culprit has ever been acquitted by claiming that he/she is a human being, but not a human person. Such a claim would be absurd.
4) Approximately 96% of all human embryos conceived in vitro are wasted in the process of In Vitro Fertilization [Nicholas Tonti¬–Fillipini, ‘Reproductive Technology Outcomes in Australia: Analysing the Data’, Bioethics Research Notes (March 2003, 15: 1, 2)]. Such wastage is foreseen, and in Irish law, according to the late Mr Justice Adrian Hardiman, what is foreseen is considered to be deliberate. He gave this legal opinion, while still a young barrister, during a talk he gave to the Anti Amendment Campaign in Carrick Hall, Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin 6, during the Referendum campaign of 1982–83, a Referendum that that gave us the 8th Amendment on September 7, 1983. Putting that in context, Professor Fergal Malone, Master of the Rotunda, said at the meeting on October 11, 2017, of the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, that about 30% to 40% of all human conceptions will end in a miscarriage. In other words, nature is much less profligate than IVF.
5) Irish law, at present, permits the deliberate destruction of unborn human life only in the circumstances set out in sections 7, 8, 9, of the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013 [the 2013 Act]. Destruction of unborn human life, outside of these circumstances, is still a crime [see section 22].
6) Furthermore, the deliberate destruction of unborn human life, refers to human life ‘after implantation’ [see the word ‘unborn’ in Interpretation 2. (1), in the Protection of Life During Pregnancy Act 2013]. In other words, there is no endorsement in Irish law of the deliberate destruction of human life before implantation. Accordingly, there is no endorsement in Irish law of destructive research on ‘supernumerary’ human embryos until the 14th day after fertilization, something that this General Scheme intends. [PART 7 EMBRYO AND STEM CELL RESEARCH, pp. 143–152]
7) Unlike the Supreme Court ruling in Roche ¬¬–v– Roche & ors [15/12/2009], the 2014 Act does not discriminate between human embryos conceived in the natural way, and those conceived through In Vitro Fertilization. The Courts for years have challenged the Oireachtas to define when human life begins, or at least to define from what point the law begins to protect human life. In the 2014 Act, as explained, the State did precisely that. As the 2014 Act enjoys the presumption of Constitutionality, as it was passed after the introduction of the 1937 Constitution, if the Constitutionality of the 2014 Act were challenged, it probably would be endorsed by the Supreme Court. For decades now the dominant opinion of the Supreme Court has been that that Court should leave the work of legislation to the Oireachtas; that the Court’s role is just to interpret the law.
8) [Head 49, pp. 123–124] This General Scheme is very disrespectful of those poor unfortunates who act as donors in the context of IVF. It completely ignores the advice of a majority of the Supreme Court in 2014 [7/11/2014] in their ruling on the Government appeal against the ruling of Mr Justice Henry Abbott in the High Court on the ‘Surrogate Mother’ Case [5/3/2013], that the genetic/biological mother be recognized in law as a legal mother. After all, traditionally every mother has been the biological/genetic mother of her children. The General Scheme makes, in effect, a reproductive slave of the poor unfortunate surrogate mother. That is inhuman. It allows for ‘justified expenses’ for the surrogate mother, but bans so–called ‘commercial surrogacy’, a distinction that is without reality [HEAD 4, p. 102]. In this General Scheme the donors have to give up their rights as natural parents when they finally agree to a Parental Order.
9) IVF/AHR do nothing to cure infertility, unlike technologies such as NaProTechnolgy. IVF/AHR ignore the causes of infertility and subfertility. NaProTechnology costs a fraction of what IVF/AHR cost, and doesn’t involve gravely unethical practices. The success rate for NaProTechnology is between 40% and 60% after one year [Dr Phil Boyle, practitioner].
10) How ironic that the Government saw fit to start this discussion in the middle of the week that they decided that the Report recommending the Repeal of the Eighth Amendment should be discussed by the Dáil and Seanad. Abortion itself can lead to infertility. Infertility, or subfertility are caused, in part, by delaying having children until the couple is in early middle age.
11) That delay, in part, is caused by economic factors. What is the Government doing to encourage young couples to start their family when they are young and still fertile? That would involve ensuring a living wage, and fertility–friendly work practices, for young women especially. It also would involve the control of house prices in a fertility–friendly way. There is an ecology of the human body, and not just of the environment.
12) There are significant cutbacks to funding for IVF through the UK NHS [Stephen Matthews, ‘County that pioneered IVF 40 years ago becomes the latest to scrap the fertility treatment for free on NHS’, MailOnline, September 6, 2017]. Yet Minister Simon Harris, in the Republic of Ireland, at a time of ‘unprecedented cash crisis’ in the HSE, intends to make IVF, and the like, available to people, at the taxpayers’ expense, without regard to income.
Issued by ADFAM
Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage Business Name Reg. No. 593257; Business Name Owner, Séamas de Barra.
ADFAM, Unit 104, 35 Upper Rathmines Road, Dublin 6. D06V4A0.