Over-60s ‘too old’ to father test-tube babies

sperm cell image against black background
Men won right to export frozen sperm samples from Agence de la Biomédecine

Court ruling sets legal age of procreation at ‘about 59’

Men over the age of “about 59” are too old to father test-tube babies in France after a court ruling set the legal age of procreation for males.

Judges had been asked by the Agence de la Biomédecine to rule after two men in the 60s were able to father medically assisted babies.

The agency had tried to prevent access as the men were aged 68 and 69 at the time of their requests, but the men won a court ruling that they could export the frozen sperm, and it was later used by their wives in in Belgium and Spain.

Saying there was a need to “clarify the regulations”, the agency took the case to a higher administrative court. This ruled that “with regard to available scientific understanding” the age of procreation under the public health code should be set at “about 59” as above that age the “reproductive capacities of men were generally impaired”.

The decision does not stop men from fathering babies naturally but gives the agency the right to refuse to hand over frozen sperm samples.

In France, assisted reproductive technology is legally restricted to heterosexual couples of “procreation age” who suffer from recognised infertility or who risk transmitting a serious illness to any child. This is funded by Assurance Maladie up to the age of 43 for women and 60 for men.

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