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France gives all women access to IVF

14 June 2021
Appeared in BioNews 1099

Single French women and those in same-sex partnerships will be able to access IVF and other fertility treatments. 

New legislation aims to extend access to fertility treatment, making it free under the country's public healthcare system, ending the exclusion of women who do not have a male partner. 

Health minister Olivier Véran said he expected the law to come into force next month and promised that female couples would be able to enrol in assisted reproduction treatment programmes as soon as September.

Until now, French law has only allowed heterosexual married couples to access fertility treatment. Every year thousands of lesbian and single women from France travel to other countries, such as Spain and Belgium, to access fertility services, but this option comes at a significant financial cost.

The much-delayed reform fulfils a promise made by President Emmanuel Macron to legalise IVF for single women and lesbian couples in his 2017 election campaign. The reform was threatened early this year when, supported by right-wing politicians and the Catholic church, senators voted to remove single and lesbian women from the new bioethics bill.

However, the majority of French people appear to be in favour of extending access to fertility treatment, and LGBTQ groups protested the senate's decision.

'We demand, among other things, anonymous assisted reproduction by default, free and reimbursed for all, without any conditions,' said Lea Haurie-Hontas, a spokeswoman for Les Collages Lesbiens, who held a march in April protesting the senate's change to the bill.

Ultimately President Macron's party and their allies have a majority in the lower house and were able to override the senate. The passing of this legislation in France means they join ten other European states that currently fund fertility treatment for single women and lesbian couples. 

The bill does not cover fertility treatment for trans people, and will not help male same-sex couples become parents, as surrogacy remains illegal in France.

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