8 Jul 2013 Posted in Press releases
- The Ministry of Law (MinLaw) is introducing the Status of Children (Assisted Reproduction Technology) Bill (SOC Bill) to:
- Clarify the legal parentage and status of children conceived through assisted reproduction technology (ART);
- Clarify the legal parentage and status of children conceived through ART where the wrong egg, sperm or embryo was used in the fertilisation procedure as a result of a mistake, negligence, recklessness, or fraud (ART mix-up); and
- Modernise the law relating to evidence of paternity by allowing relevant evidence to be presented to displace the presumption of paternity in relation to a child born during the continuance of a valid marriage. 1
- In November 2012, MinLaw conducted a public consultation on a draft SOC Bill. 2 Respondents were generally supportive of the Bill and MinLaw has considered the feedback received.
- A copy of the final Bill and a summary of MinLaw’s responses to the feedback received from the public consultation are in Annexes A and B respectively.
- Contents of the Bill
- The contents of the Bill are summarised below:
- Parenthood and legal status of children in ART cases
- A woman who has carried a child as a result of a fertilisation procedure (that is, the gestational or “birth” mother) will be treated in law as the mother of the child.
- As for legal fatherhood, the Bill proposes that:
- In cases where the genetic father is the husband of the gestational mother, the husband will be the legal father;
- In cases where the child was not conceived with the sperm of the gestational mother’s husband, the husband will be treated as the father of the child unless it is proved that he did not consent to the ART procedure. If it is proved that he did not consent to the ART procedure, he will still be treated as the legal father if he accepts the child as a child of the marriage;
- In cases where the gestational mother has a de facto partner 3 whom she subsequently marries, legal fatherhood would be determined in accordance with paragraph 6(b) above;
- In cases where the gestational mother has a de facto partner whose sperm was used to conceive the child, an application can be made to declare the de facto partner as the father of the child;
- In cases where the child was not conceived with the sperm of the gestational mother’s de facto partner, an application can be made to declare the de facto partner as the father of the child if he had consented to the ART procedure. If the de facto partner did not consent to the ART procedure, an application can be made to declare the de facto partner as the father of the child if he accepts the child as a child of the relationship;
- The gestational mother, child, and de facto partner of a gestational mother may make an application for a declaration of parenthood. Any other person, with leave of court, may also apply to court for a declaration. In cases within scenarios (d) and (e) above, any declaration made would not confer legitimacy on the child.
- Legal Parentage and Status of Children conceived as a result of ART mix-ups
- In cases where an ART mix-up has occurred, Clause 9 of the Bill provides that the default position shall be determined in accordance with rules determining parenthood, as if the mix-up had not occurred, and the child was brought about with the egg, sperm, or embryo intended to be used and not that which was actually used. However, any interested party may apply to Court, within two years from the date of discovery of the mix-up, for a declaration that he or she be declared as the father or mother of the child.
- MinLaw sought views during the public consultation exercise on whether the approach adopted in Clause 9 of the Bill is the most appropriate option to deal with ART mix-up cases. After considering the feedback received, MinLaw is of the view that the approach adopted in Clause 9 is most suitable, as this approach ensures that the child will not be left parentless if no one wants to take care of the child after discovery of the mix-up. This approach also gives the court flexibility to make a declaration of parenthood in the best interests of the child.
- Amendments to section 114 of the Evidence Act
- Presently, section 114 of the Evidence Act provides that a man shall be treated as the father of a child born during the continuance of a valid marriage unless it can be shown that he had “no access” to the woman when the child was conceived. It excludes any information obtained from generally accepted scientific methods that are able to shed light on biological links, such as DNA tests. The Bill proposes to amend section 114 of the Evidence Act to enable any relevant evidence to be produced to displace this presumption of paternity. The amendment will allow courts to use DNA evidence, for example, when deciding issues of paternity.
- Transitional measures
- The Bill will apply to children born on or after the date of the commencement of the Bill. For children conceived through ART before the commencement date of the proposed Bill, a transitional measure will provide that an application may be made to the court for a declaration of parentage within two years from the commencement date of the Bill, or in an ART mix-up, two years from the date of the discovery of the mix-up.
- The Ministry would like to thank all respondents for taking the time to review the SOC Bill, as well as providing us with their considered and constructive comments.
Annex A: Status of Children (Assisted Reproduction Technology) Bill (0.21MB)
Annex B: Responses to feedback (0.17MB)
At present this presumption is rebuttable only on evidence that husband and wife had “no access”.
Please refer to http://www.mlaw.gov.sg/news/public-consultations/public-consultation-on-the-proposed-SOC-Bill.html
Defined in the Bill as the man, if any, with whom the gestational mother is living in a relationship as if he were her spouse at that point in time.
Last updated on 08 Jul 2013