Laws to help define parentage for IVF children

PHOTO: Laws to help define parentage for IVF children

SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is studying legislation aimed at formulating a bill to make clear who the parents are for babies born using artificial reproduction techniques.

Lawyer S. Palaniappan told the Straits Times that current laws do not address all scenarios as in last year's IVF mix-up case when genetic material was used without consent at Thomson Medical Centre.

Questions had arisen about the biological father's claim over the child.

Citing Britain's Human Fertilisation and Embryology Act (HFEA) 2008, he said defining the father of the child to be the male partner in a marriage, allows the husband in the mistaken IVF treatment the option of saying that he is not the father.

MinLaw will work with other agencies, including the Ministry of Health, to also clarify issues including the legal status of children born through current medical technology which allows for a man's wife to give birth using both eggs and sperm from donors.

The national newspaper reported that legislation will first and foremost protect the child's interests by ensuring that the child does not face long-term consequences such as whether he can inherit properties where the owner dies without leaving a will.

The initiative comes at a time when babies conceived by such methods are on the rise. In 2009, there were 1,158 such births, up from 717 in 2006.

The new legal framework should also clarify specific issues such as when a foreign mother conceives via the technology overseas and delivers in Singapore or alternatively, where the Singaporean mother conceives and delivers abroad.

MinLaw is looking to complete its study or formulate a draft Bill by the end of next year.