A senior Irish politician has resigned from a committee after she was silenced for raising concerns about commercial surrogacy.
Senator Sharon Keogan said she no longer felt “safe or protected” as a member of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth. She will remain on the Joint Committee on International Surrogacy.
At a meeting of the surrogacy committee, Senator Lynn Ruane told Keogan to “check your Christian values when you walk in every day”. The meeting was suspended twice following the exchange.
Keogan described Ruane’s remarks as a “deeply personal attack” which “sought to characterise me and my contribution unfairly”.
She had told the witnesses present at the committee she “wholeheartedly objects to the commercialisation of the human child and the relegation of women to the status of simply incubator or wombs for hire”.
She added: “Surrogacy I believe is harmful, it is exploitative and it is unethical. I don’t believe it is everyone’s right to have a child.”
The ‘About’ section of the Senator’s website describes her as a “businesswoman and politician” but makes no mention of religious beliefs.
Pro-women group The Countess said Keogan was attacked for expressing widely-held concerns, stating: “No one should be bullied and silenced for talking about the ethics of surrogacy, and personalised comments from other members should have no place in the committee.”
Writing in the Irish Examiner, journalist Daniel McConnell commented that “in a democracy, she had a right to be heard. And the simple truth, from my perspective, is that she wasn’t heard”.
He added: “Being offended is the price we pay for living in a free society. Ms Keogan may have been offensive, insensitive, and crass in her commentary, but for her, it is her stated belief and unpalatable as it may be, she should have been able to have her say.”
No one should be bullied and silenced for talking about the ethics of surrogacy