The Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has defended his proposed family law bill, calling it a “radical reform of the law as it relates to children and their parents” which “recognises the diversity of families and which supports children across a multiplicity of situations. “
In a speech to the Children’s Rights Alliance, Minister Shatter said that many of his proposals were ones that he had “long considered necessary based on my extensive experience as a family law practitioner.
“Other proposals, particularly relating to the complex issue of surrogacy, are relatively new and have come to prominence only within the last small number of years. As such, they reflect the impact which new technologies and social attitudes can play in creating new forms of family with corresponding legal needs. “
Minister Shatter claimed that the purpose of his legislation was not to “’downgrade’ or devalue the traditional marital family – rather, it is to embrace the multiplicity of other family forms and to ensure the children growing up in those families have the reality of their lives and families valued too.”
He praised the pre-legislative hearings of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality and thanked various groups for their contributions.
But he made no mention in the speech of the questions raised about his Bill at the hearings; such as those about the benefits of being raised by one’s married biological parents; or of the way in which egg and and sperm donation will often deprive a child of their natural mother or father.
On the question of anonymous egg and sperm donation, Minister Shatter said that “My legislation is not intended to regulate the broader medical, commercial and ethical issues around assisted human reproduction. These are, primarily, a matter for my colleague the Minister for Health. He is examining proposals to regulate assisted human reproduction and related matters. He will make a decision on these matters in due course in the context of on-going legislative priorities. I am very much aware of the importance of these issues, including that it is essential to vindicate the right of the child to know his or her identity including genetic origins.”