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France's lower house approves IVF draft law

30 September 2019
Appeared in BioNews 1017

France's lower house, the National Assembly, has passed draft legislation to end discrimination over women's reproductive rights.

The proposed law – allowing fertility treatment for same-sex couples and single mothers – was recently the subject of heated debate in the French parliament. The bill now moves to France's upper house, the Senate, for further discussion.

'This is about what society we want to live in and offer future generations,' said the health minister, Agnès Buzyn. 'It is about reflecting France as it is today...Same-sex parents and single parents exist today… it would be hypocritical not to see them and not to recognise them [in law].'

The bill is the first major act of social reform by President Emmanuel Macron and his centrist party. Currently, only heterosexual couples who have been married or living together for more than two years have the right to access treatments such as IVF, artificial insemination or sperm donation. As a result, same-sex couples must travel abroad for fertility treatment. 

The new law would bring France in line with European neighbours Britain and Spain. Fertility treatments would be extended to same-sex couples and single mothers with costs covered by the health care system for all women under 43 years. It would also allow children conceived with donor sperm to learn the donor's identity when they turn 18 and birth certificates of children born to lesbian couples would name the 'mother and mother' instead of the 'mother and father'. 

France's medical ethics committee recently expressed reservations about the bill, saying 'the deliberate conception of a child deprived of a father is not without risk for the child's development'.

However, a National Assembly member in Macron's party, Jean-Louis Touraine, pointed out that many French children are already raised by single mothers and 'all the children born in these conditions tell us how happy they are, how they haven't suffered from any great lack'. 

The changes were approved by a special parliamentary commission earlier this month, and polls suggest the majority of French people are in favour. However, there has been considerable opposition from right-wing politicians and the Catholic Church, which has called for concerned citizens to demonstrate against the bill. 

A protest is planned in Paris for the 6 October, and concerns have been raised that there could be a repeat of the street demonstrations and violent attacks that followed the legalisation of same-sex marriage in 2013.

France debates law to let lesbians and single women have IVF
The Guardian |  24 September 2019
France moves to extend IVF to gay and single women
Finanical Times |  24 September 2019
France's medical ethics committee expresses 'reservations' over IVF for lesbians and single women
The Telegraph |  23 September 2019
French lawmakers approve IVF for lesbians, single women
France 24 |  27 September 2019
French MPs approve IVF draft law for single women and lesbians
The Guardian |  27 September 2019
14 June 2021 - by David O'Rourke 
Single French women and those in same-sex partnerships will be able to access IVF and other fertility treatments...
27 August 2019 - by Jen Willows 
An NHS group has banned single women from accessing funded fertility treatment...
27 August 2019 - by Dr Sophie Zadeh 
Last week's news that public funds for assisted reproduction are not being made available to single women in South East London piqued my interest...
8 July 2019 - by Dr Margo Bernelin 
The access and use of personal health data for research purposes is increasingly receiving press attention. Undeniably, there are renewed possibilities of conducting health research by processing and cross-referencing large volumes of data through sophisticated algorithms...
17 June 2019 - by Dr Yvonne Collins 
France plans to lift a ban preventing single women and lesbian couples from accessing IVF and other fertility treatments, announced Prime Minister Édouard Philippe last week...
Comment ( - 01/10/2019)
I totally agree with the idea to do IVF not only to couples but also to single women. Infertility makes me unhappy, and my family is ruining now. So, what shall I do if we divorce? I am searching for any treatments as well as surrogacy if my treatment is useless... Oh, I've heard about some new way in egg donation, but I still have little of info about that.
Comment ( - 02/10/2019)
Finally! They started to think not only about themselves but also about single women and those who are of non-traditional sexual orientation. I can't understand their attitude towards gays? Aren't they human beings? If they have another lifestyle it doesn/t mean that they have no right to have children and be happy! Unfortunately, there aren't many places in the world where they can have such treatment as surrogacy. Though, they may have IVF with one of the donation programs. A friend of mine, went to Ukraine to have ICSI with donor cells. She is a gey and she didn't want to do this in her hometown. I don't know the details, unfortunately, but I know that she is stimulating now for her future embryo transfer. I hope that everything will be alright with her and they will have their baby soon.
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