France LGBTQ+

Lesbians, single women get access to IVF under new French law

Activists call for assisted procreation for all women, 30 Jan 2021
Activists call for assisted procreation for all women, 30 Jan 2021 Jean-Francois Monier AFP/Archivos

Lesbian couples and single women have been given access to fertility procedures in France for the first time-- the law passed on Tuesday after two years of debate.

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Previously under French law, only heterosexual couples had the right to medical assistance for reproduction, such as in vitro fertilisation. Lesbian couples and single women who wanted to have a child had to travel abroad.

The bill was first passed in the National Assembly in 2019 but had a difficult passage through parliament, after the right-wing dominated Senate proposed numerous amendments. 

However, this time, a majority of MPs backed the legislation in Tuesday's final vote.  

The Inter-LGBT association said it welcomes the change, while describing it as a “forceps birth” and lamenting the time it has taken.

Some activists, members of specialist committees and MPs expressed concern in debates about the absence of fathers for such babies, the fact that medical procedures such as IVF would be used for reasons other than biological infertility, the impact on the sperm donor market and the cost to the public health system.

Under the new law, France will cover the cost of fertility procedures for all women under 43 – whether single or in a relationship. 

Surrogacy not legalised

A recent poll suggested that 67 percent of French people support the idea of single and lesbian women having access to help for reproduction.

The law also allows children conceived with donor sperm the right to know the identity of the donor, once they are adults.

Until now, France has guaranteed the anonymity of donors.

The legislation also allow women in their thirties to freeze their eggs – a procedure which until now has only been available to women undergoing treatments which could affect their fertility, such as radiotherapy or chemotherapy.

The bill stops short of legalising surrogacy, where a woman is contracted to carry a baby in her uterus to be given up at birth, a practice which is legal in some countries and used by some gay couples.

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