'Rent-a-womb' surrogacy to be banned

Fertility treatmeants and surrogacy will be regulated in new landmark laws

Childless couples will no longer be allowed to travel oversea to avail of controversial 'rent-a-womb' surrogacy services abroad.

New legal guidelines governing fertility-related issues such as embryo implantation, stem cell research and surrogacy will be in place by early next year.

It comes as there is mounting concern surrounding the implications of commercial suurrogacy and how the market is potentially exploiting young women in India.

The Sunday Independent reports that more than 80 children have been born abroad by surrogacy arrangements. An estimated 75% of children involved were born in India, where the cost per child is around €30,000.

The cost of the service can be as high as €120,00 in the US.

The figures are based on the number of emergency travel certificates which new parents must apply for in order to bring a child home.

In February 2015, the government approved to draft legal provisions governing fertility treatments, including surrogacy.

In a statement, the Department of Health has now confirmed the provisions will be completed before March. The proposals will then be submitted to the Joint Oireachtas Committee.

Under the proposed legislation, surrogacy will be permitted on a "altruistic basis", and at least one of the intending parents will have to be genetically related to the child.

The name of the birth mother will also appear on the birth certificate at first.