While we recently celebrated Italy’s move to criminalize surrogacy abroad, it seems other countries would rather capitalize on the baby-making industry rather than protect women and children. Currently, surrogacy in Ireland is neither legal or illegal — there are no specific laws governing surrogacy in the land. Ireland had a golden opportunity to put laws into place that would protect children. Rather than follow the example of Italy and other countries where surrogacy is illegal, ministers in Ireland have approved plans to recognize international surrogacy arrangements. 

The proposed changes will “allow those who have been resident in Ireland for two years to hire women from a list of approved countries to serve as surrogates, gestating and giving birth to babies who will then be handed over to them.” Commercial surrogacy still won’t be “allowed” in Ireland, but just as it is in England, a “reasonable sum” can be offered and will, no doubt, pave the way for rentable wombs, commercializing women and selling babies. Celebrated as progress, we are discouraged by this news. Real progress does not commodify the wombs of women and it does not sell her children. 

“Approved countries” further reveals the government’s callousness as it creates a preference for certain women to be exploited. Which countries will the government approve for surrogacy arrangements? Clearly Irish women are not fit for this “service,” and yet some women can be rented, typically poorer women, in poorer countries. They are fine with women elsewhere being commercialized. Medical experimentation on human embryos is a step too far on Irish soil, but outsourcing the practice, and the ethical nightmares that result from it, is for other countries to worry about.

The bill is hailed by some as a win for lesbian and gay couples, but what kind of equal rights victory is won by subjugating others?

As discouraged as we are by this global step backward, just as we have in the past, we will continue to support the efforts of people like Senator Ronan Mullen, fighting hard to keep surrogacy out of Ireland. Senator Mullen calls the Irish public to contact their politicians and consider the full implications, stating:

 “Surrogacy legislation enables the denial of natural motherhood, the exploitation of financially vulnerable women and the commodification of children. Surrogacy is massively abusive of human rights and is rightly banned in most European countries.”

Surrogacy should be outlawed to protect women, children, and families. Beyond what lawmakers can do, we support every effort to speak out and educate the public about this form of exploitation in the name of profit. Please share our documentary films Breeders: A Subclass of Women and #BigFertility, or our podcast Venus Rising with the people in your life who need to understand the true cost of surrogacy.