French Senate approves bill authorizing IVF for single women and lesbians

PARIS (Reuters) – The French Senate voted on Wednesday in favor of a bill that would give single women and lesbian couples access to in vitro fertilization (IVF), the first major social reform in President Emmanuel’s term. Macron.

FILE PHOTO: A medical technician selects eggs for an in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedure called intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) at the CECOS Reproductive Biology Laboratory at Tenon Hospital in Paris, France, September 19, 2019 .REUTERS/Benoit Tessier

The bill passed 160-116 in the Senate, where Macron’s centrist party outnumbers right-wing Republicans.

The bill is part of a broader bioethics law, which in October passed its first reading in the National Assembly, the lower house where Macron’s party holds a majority.

The law would overturn some of Western Europe’s strictest rules governing medically assisted pregnancies, a Macron campaign promise.

The senators, however, rejected an article approved by the lower house, which would have allowed the reimbursement of IVF by French social security.

Under the legislation in force in France, IVF is only accessible to couples of the opposite sex, and only for reasons of infertility or risk of transmission of a disease or a pathological state to the child or one of the parents.

Assisted reproduction – such as IVF – is widely available to all women in countries such as Britain, Belgium and Spain. But in France, it has fueled a wider debate about the commercialization of health care and gay rights.

“What was recognized for heterosexual couples must be recognized for homosexual couples,” said Socialist Party Senator David Assouline.

The legalization of same-sex marriage in France six years ago sparked massive street protests even though the influence of the Catholic Church was thought to be waning.

A sign that France has become more socially liberal, polls show that a majority of French people support the reform of bioethics.

Some opponents of the bioethics bill fear it could pave the way for the legalization of surrogacy – where a surrogate mother is implanted with sperm and egg or becomes pregnant using her own egg – whose popularity is skyrocketing around the world, especially among LGBT+ couples who want to become parents.

Last weekend, 41,000 people marched peacefully through Paris to oppose the bill.

Conservative Party Les Républicains Senator Pascale Bories regretted that Macron “did not have the courage to hold a referendum on this issue because the debates transcend political parties”.

Reporting by Elizabeth Pineau; Written by Dominique Vidalon; Editing by Geert De Clercq and Lisa Shumaker

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