'The rich are buying and the poor are selling' - Group claims surrogacy is exploiting women

Jennifer Lahl is in Ireland to speak at the Iona Institute

'The rich are buying and the poor are selling' - Group claims surrogacy is exploiting women

A 'Vote No' poster which says "Surrogacy she needs her mother for life, not just for 9 months" during the same-sex marriage referendum in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

Surrogacy has been growing as an option in Ireland - but the lack of a legal framework has been a cause of concern.

As it currently stands, the surrogate mother is considered the legal mother of the child and the child's guardian, because she has given birth to the child.

If the surrogate mother is married, then under Section 46 of the Status of Children Act 1987, the surrogate mother's husband is presumed by law to be the father of the child, unless proven to the contrary. If she is not married, she is the sole guardian.

There is no Irish legislation to cover the legal issues arising from surrogacy.

A Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction report from 2005 recommended the establishment of a regulatory body for assisted human reproduction, including surrogacy.

However, the recommendations have not yet been incorporated into Irish law.

If the surrogate mother is married, then under Section 46 of the Status of Children Act 1987, the surrogate mother's husband is presumed by law to be the father of the child, unless the contrary is proven. If she is not married, she is the sole guardian.

Jennifer Lahl is a member of the international Stop Surrogacy Now group. She is in Ireland to speak at an Iona Institute lecture on the issue.

She told the Pat Kenny Show here on Newstalk it is using and exploiting a women's bodies.

"People think that a surrogate pregnancy just has the natural risk of pregnancy - not true.

"A surrogate pregnancy has additional risks on top of it because of these assisted, high-tech kind of technologies used to get her pregnant.

"The children that are born through these technologies...are born with genetic problems that we're seeing now in the medical literature, because we have more and more children being born this way - and overwhelmingly these technologies fail.

"Most people who want a baby don't take home a baby".

But she explains she is not against In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF): "I think there's a difference between somebody assuming a risk for their own body...whereas a surrogate mother, why should she take risks for somebody else?

"Let's not fool ourselves: it's the rich that are buying and it's the poor that are selling.

"I'm a feminist - I'm outraged that we would use and exploit a woman's body, mostly for money, and pat ourselves on the back."

"Maternal child bonding begins in the womb; the one and only thing a baby knows when they're born is they know their mother's voice - they know her movements, they know her rhythm, they know her scent.

"They don't know that this is just a nice woman helping to have a baby - that's their mother - and there is a wound when you separate that child at birth".