France's national consultative committee on bioethics (CCNE) has said that single women and gay women should be able to access IVF and other assisted reproductive technologies. Currently these treatments are available only to heterosexual couples in France.
The committee released its report to inform Government policy as France prepares to review its laws on assisted reproduction.
'Access to a technique that is already allowed [for other groups of women] does not cause any harm to the people involved,' the document stated.
It added that fertility treatment 'should be available to all women' regardless of relationship status or sexual orientation. The committee reasoned that being unable to have children constituted a real 'hardship' for individuals.
The committee also guardedly supported allowing women to freeze their eggs to extend their fertility, a technique that is currently only used for egg donors in France. However, while it said the practice should be permitted, it added that it would not 'encourage' egg freezing. The committee advised maintaining the country's ban on surrogacy.
A recent study by the polling and market research firm IFOP suggested that 60 percent of French people supported broadening access to include single women and lesbian couples, compared with just 24 percent in support in 1990. However, La Manif Pour Tous (Protest for Everyone) group, which protested against the legalisation of gay marriage, has dismissed the ethics committee's report as 'political rather [than] ethical', France 24 reported.
In the run up to his election, President Emmanuel Macron made a campaign promise to make reproductive technologies available to gay and single women. However, a statement from the Elysée palace was noncommittal.
'We are not bound by this opinion,' the Elysée palace told Reuters. 'The debate on assisted reproductive technologies is an ethical one and it is not over.'