Key laws and policies
- Constitution of Ireland
- Medical Council, A Guide to Ethical Conduct and Behaviour, 6th ed (March 2004)
The Constitution (Article 40, Section 3.3) "acknowledges the right to life of the unborn ... with due regard to the equal right to life of the mother" but the legal interpretation of this is disputed. A common view is that the "unborn" include all in vitro embryos and that the consititution therefore prohibits all embryonic research and all forms of cloning. However, a 2006 court opinion, which as of April, 2008, was on appeal to the Supreme Court, suggested that "unborn" meant "a foetus or child within the womb."
"The Irish government has stated its opposition to cloning, both therapeutic and reproductive, on a number of occasions and therefore it is thought unlikely that the legal position on this issue will change in the near future." Arguably, cloning is not prohibited by law but certainly it is in practice.
Permitted and regulated practices
It is often stated that PGD is prohibited, and it seems not to be practiced, but also not to be specifically illegal. The use of IVF is discouraged by the Medical Council guidelines, and only available to married couples with untreatable infertility. Further legislation has been expected for some years.
A Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction was established by the government in 2000, and issued its report in March, 2005 but legislation has not followed. The Report's recommendations included prohibitions on reproductive cloning, the creation of embryos for research purposes, sex selection for social reasons and the generation and use of interspecies human embryos.
The Irish Council for Bioethics issued a Report on Stem Cell Research in April, 2008, which also called for widespread legislative reform.
The Medical Council's Guide to Ethical Conduct and Behaviour is updated every five years and therefore due for revision in March, 2009.
- Report of the Commission on Assisted Human Reproduction (2005)
- Deirdre Madden, "Assisted Reproduction in the Republic of Ireland – a Legal Quagmire" (July 2004)
- Irish Council for Bioethics, Ethical, Scientific and Legal Isues Concerning Stem Cell Research (April, 2008)
- "Death of a woman who yearned for children highlights poor practices," Irish Examiner (July 25, 2007)