Global Health LGBTQ

French Lawmakers Approve IVF for Single and Gay Women

France’s lower house of Parliament approved a controversial draft of a bioethics law Friday allowing single women and lesbian couples to use medically assisted reproduction methods, but it still needs to make it through France’s upper house.

The bill, which would allow women who are not in heterosexual relationships or single to access IVF treatment through France’s health care system, was approved by 55 votes to 17 in France’s National Assembly. Now, it needs to be approved by the Senate to be enacted into law.

Under the proposed law, France’s national health care system would provide the procedure to all women under the age of 43. Lesbian couples could have their names listed as “mother and mother” on their child’s birth certificate instead of “mother and father.” In addition, the bill would give children conceived with donated sperm the option to learn their donor’s identity when they turn 18, marking a change from France’s current strict donor anonymity protections.

If enacted into law, the bill will bring French law into line with several other European countries including Germany, Britain, Spain, Portugal, the Netherlands, Ireland, Belgium and Scandinavian countries which provide medically assisted procreation for all women.

The debate over the bill has led to increased tension between socially liberal and conservative politicians and has even been met with criticism from within French President Emmanuel Macron’s own centrist party, which proposed the new law.

Conservatives in France argue that the bill would create generations of “fatherless” children, however they do not explain why this would be a negative thing.

Additionally, about 20 conservative groups have called for a rally in Paris on October 6th against the proposed legal changes they say will “deprive children of their fathers.”

“The state is going to lie to a child by saying that you are born from two mothers,” far-right National Rally Leader Marine Le Pen said Tuesday. “The state should not lie on a birth certificate…you can say that you are born from an unknown father.”

When first proposed in August, the Macron administration argued that the bill would bring French legislation up to speed with a changing society. In France, many lesbian couples and single women who want to have children are forced to travel to fertility clinics abroad, something they describe as discriminatory.

IVF treatment was a primary demand of French LGBTQ+ rights groups after France legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.

“This simply is a measure of equality for French female citizens, whatever their sexual orientation is,” the Association of Gay and Lesbian Parents and Future Parents said in a statement regarding the recent bill.

Sources: DW 9/27/19; France 24 9/27/19

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