Monday, September 29, 2014

Mothers and Fathers Matter

New organisation demands major reform of Children and Family Relationships Bill

A NEW organisation called Mothers and Fathers Matter has been launched today to draw attention to the anti-child nature of the Children and Family Relationships Bill in its present form.

The message of Mothers and Fathers Matter is exactly that, mothers and fathers matter. The latest version of the General Scheme of the Children and Family Relationships Bill, published last week, denies this outright.

In its present form the proposed legislation:

- Commodifies children

- Undermines the right of a child to a mother and father whenever possible

- Deliberately disrupts the natural ties between parents and children

- Undermines the special status of marriage in the Constitution

Minister Fitzgerald gives the impression that the law simply regulates existing family relationships by giving them necessary legal supports. 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 right to a mother and father will be respected.

The law thus promotes families where children are deliberately denied either a mother or a father. This element of what the law does is based on adults’ wishes and not on the best interests of the child.

The proposed legislation authorises adults to deliberately 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 commodifies children by allowing adults in effect to ‘order them’, even to particular specifications. (This is why eggs from university undergraduates are often sought by fertility clinics).

While the Bill will not provide a statutory basis for surrogacy, as was originally intended, neither will it prohibit the practice. It remains open to adults to use surrogate mothers to have babies, that is, to contract women to have babies for them.

The new scheme of the Bill aims to prohibit 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 therefore asks Minister Fitzgerald 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 amazes us that a Government, which professes to be pro-child, would wish to pass a piece of legislation that treats the natural tie, and by extension 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 themselves need to be prohibited.

“Adoption law should also seek to place children with a married mother and father whenever possible. Only in exceptional circumstances should this preference be set aside. The proposed Bill does not uphold this preference at all. It allows cohabiting couples as well as same-sex couples in Civil Partnerships to adopt. This further highlights the fact that the Government does not attach any special importance either to marriage or to motherhood and fatherhood.”

He concluded: “Common sense as well as our Constitution acknowledge the place of mothers and fathers in conceiving, nurturing and raising children. We should not be legislating to subvert the most basic entitlement of a child.”


Further information about Mothers and Fathers Matter can be found on our website:

Contact details:

Professor Ray Kinsella: 087 123 8884