French ethics report: All women should have IVF access

The new ethics report reiterates the stance that all women should have access to fertility treatment

The French national ethics committee has reiterated its stance in favour of extending medically-assisted reproduction to all women, including lesbians, and lifting anonymity of sperm donors in some cases.

The report, delivered on September 25 by the Comité Consultatif National d'Éthique (CCNE), confirms the view that all women - including homosexual couples and single women - should have free access to the medical procedure (usually IVF).

The committee is also in favour of allowing women to freeze embryos for future use - if the woman in question is within a certain age range.

Similarly, it agrees that women should be able to use embryos “post mortem”, e.g. in the rare event that a woman wishes to use a frozen, fertilised embryo, even after the death of her partner or sperm donor.

The CCNE report also discussed anonymous sperm donors, saying that it was in favour of lifting total anonymity in certain cases, but that this would need to be tempered by very precise agreements that respected the donor’s wishes at the outset.

The agency is still not in favour of surrogate pregnancy, it said.

The report also discussed end of life care and the “right to die” question, with the CCNE saying that it did not feel a change in the law was needed. Instead, it called for the “imperative need” to respect and apply the current laws.

Much of the report reiterates viewpoints that were first publicly adopted by the CCNE in June 2017, and have been repeated and confirmed ahead of the forthcoming government discussions on bioethics.

The government is set to present legal recommendations on the issues before the end of the year, and the topic is set to be re-debated in Parliament in early 2019.

President Emmanuel Macron is said to be in favour of widening access to medically-assisted reproduction.

The report comes amid a debate on the issues in France, with a poll published today finding that 52% of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender couples aged under 45 would like to have their own child at some point, and would consider IVF or surrogacy as key options, far ahead of adoption or co-parenting with another person outside of the couple.

Alexandre Urwicz, president of gay parental group l'Association des Familles Homoparentales (ADFH), said: “Today, legalising IVF for female couples would be answering a real need.

“If we continue to forbid IVF to lesbian women, all of these women who want to be mothers will see themselves being robbed of that experience.”

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