Friday, September 5, 2014

Commentary on the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014

Pursuant to the publication of the General Scheme of a Children and Family Relationships Bill on the 30th January 2014, it is important to point out some of the unseen consequences which will arise should the bill be enacted in its present form We understand that the aim of the Bill 2014 is to ‘put in place a legal architecture to underpin diverse parenting situations and to provide legal clarity on parental rights and responsibilities in such situations’.

The Bill known as ‘Shatter’s Bill’will serve neither children nor mothers, according to a press release by the Association for the Defense of the Family and Marriage ADFAM 
[Heads of the Children and Family Relationships Bill 2014]
·       The definition of ‘embryo’ indicates a profound lack of respect, and that of ‘parent’ ignores the fact that the Family according to Article 41.1.1° of the Constitution of Ireland has ‘inalienable and imprescriptible rights, antecedent and superior to all positive law’; and ignores the definition of ‘family’ given by Mrs Justice Susan Denham in McD. –v- L & anor (2009), point 62, where she says ‘Therefore arising from the Terms of the Constitution, “family” means a family based on marriage of a man and a woman.’ The Bill implies that biological parents can transfer such rights to commissioning parents in cases of surrogacy. [Part 1, Head 2: Interpretation (1)]
·       This Bill would discriminate between the biological father and the biological mother by persisting in the contested principle that the woman who gives birth is the legal mother. The birth mother in a surrogacy case would be the legal mother, and then the commissioning couples would become the legal parents. [Part 3: Head (10)]
·       This pre-empts the judgement of the Supreme Court on the appeal by the Government against the Abbott judgement [The High Court, March 5, 2013]. The Abbott judgement acknowledges the right of the genetic mother to be recognized as the legal mother. [Part 2, Parentage and Presumption of Paternity, Head 5: Parentage (2)]
·       The Bill ignores the evidence that children living in the care of non-marital couples, including same-sex couples, are 8 times more likely to be harmed than children living with married biological parents [Abuse, Neglect, Adoption and Foster Care Research, National Incidence Study of Child Abuse and Neglect (NIS-4), 2004-2009, March 2010, (Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation)]; and are 50 times more likely to die of injuries, than children residing with two biological parents [P. G. Schnitzer, ‘Child death resulting from inflicted injuries: household risk factors and perpetrator chararcteristics’, Pediatrics 116 (2005) 687-93.] [Part 3, Head 10: Parentage in cases of assisted reproduction other than surrogacy]
·       This Bill, in effect, would make a reproductive slave of the surrogate mother, and would embed the practice of IVF which, as ordinarily practised, relies on the foreseen wastage of 96% of human embryos conceived in vitro [i.e. ‘on glass’]. Surrogacy, as practised, frequently involves the deliberate abortion of one of the embryos conceived and implanted. A recent Chinese study has confirmed the strong link between abortion and breast cancer [‘A meta-analysis of the associaton between induced abortion and breast cancer risk among Chinese females’, Cancer Causes Control, November 24, 2013]. [Part 5, Surrogacy Arrangements: Heads 17 to 23]
Issued by the Alliance for the Defence of the Family and Marriage [ADFAM]