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France: Bill Proposed to Extend “Medically-Assisted Procreation” to Lesbian Couples and Single Women

(Sept. 6, 2019) On July 24, 2019, the French prime minister and the minister of Health and Solidarity submitted a bill on bioethics to the National Assembly, one of the two chambers of the French parliament. While this bill touches on a number of different subjects, the most notable and controversial aspect is that it broadens access to medically-assisted reproductive technology to lesbian couples and single women. According to article L2141-2 of France’s current Public Health Code, medically-assisted reproduction is available only to couples made up of a “man and a woman” who are either experiencing fertility problems or want to avoid transmitting a serious illness to their child.

During the 2017 presidential and legislative elections, President Emmanuel Macron expressed support for extending access to medically-assisted reproduction, but the project was postponed both to avoid controversy and to focus on other perceived legislative priorities. Now, two years on, Macron’s centrist liberal La République en Marche! (LREM) party hopes to fulfill an unrealized campaign promise without provoking the conservative backlash that accompanied the legalization of gay marriage in 2013.

The bill would modify the relevant provisions of the Public Health Code so as to extend the availability of medically-assisted reproduction to “all couples made up of a man and a woman or two women” and to “unmarried women.” According to the minister of Health, the French public health insurance will entirely cover the costs associated with medically-assisted reproduction for lesbian couples and single women, as is already the case for heterosexual couples.

Prepared by Henri Barbeau, Law Library intern, under the supervision of Nicolas Boring, Foreign Law Specialist.