French lawmakers have started debates on whether to pass a bioethics bill that would give single women and lesbian couples access to medically assisted procreation (PMA).
Until now, lesbian couples and single women wishing to bear children have to seek procedures abroad, most commonly in Belgium and Spain, forcing them to spend thousands of euros, to take a leave of absence and to see a new set of doctors.
“This is a moment of deep reflection, not on the problems to solve or the challenges we have to face, but on the type of society in which we would want to live and on the society we would want to pass on to the next generations,” French Health Minister Agnes Buzyn, one of the initiators of the bill, as she addressed members of parliament.
The extension of the PMA was a campaign promise of French President Emmanuel Macron. Responding to demands of LGBT groups, the measure will remove the medical criterion of infertility for women to qualify for access to assisted procreation procedures, such as intrauterine insemination (IUI) or in-vitro fertilisation (IVF).
The government estimates that providing female couples and single women access to PMA would cost 10 to 15 million euros, or 5% of the current PMA budget of 300 million euros.
Several lawmakers stand in support of the proposition.
“Single women and lesbian couples should have access to medically assisted procreation because children, who came from these endeavours and who came into this world with the help of science, are happy,” member of parliament Agnes Firmin Le Bodo said.
But others, many of whom come from far-right parties, spoke against the bill, including National Rally lawmaker Emanuelle Menard.
“Just to satisfy women’s desire to have a child – which is of course understandable and legitimate – how could you dare make the decision to organise by law, to inscribe into the stone of the law, to deprive children of a father?” she said.
Menard said the law would also open the doors for couples of gay men to demand to have access to surrogacy, which is currently prohibited in France.