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Liberty, equality, fertility: France allows IVF for gay and single women

France has finally legalised access to fertility treatment and assisted reproductive treatments such as in vitro fertilisation (IVF) for lesbians and single women. 

After much lobbying and debate, the French Parliament voted in June to pass the new laws, and a decree was signed this week by the country’s health minister.

Previously, only opposite-sex couples could access IVF, and others had to travel out of the country if they wanted to conceive using donor sperm.

The advance in equality of reproductive rights brings France in line with a dozen other European countries that do not discriminate on gender, sexuality, or relationship status.

Health minister Olivier Véran called the decision in June “a good day for our country”.

LGBTQ activist Aurore Foursy, who plans to have a child with partner Julie Ligot, called the legislative change “a huge step for France”. 

“We’ve been fighting so long for this right,” said Foursy.

The Health Ministry has announced over $9 million in extra funding to keep up with the anticipated increased demand for fertility services, CNN has reported.

One clinic manager said that their service was expecting an extra 200 patients per year.

People hoping to conceive children through assisted reproductive treatments may be affected by a sperm shortage, however.

France does not allow importing sperm or payment for sperm donation, and the country has already struggled to meet demands.

The most recent national figures show that in 2019, only 317 sperm donations were made.

The sperm shortage may mean that many people continue travelling to conceive.

The government-funded Agency of Biomedicine plans to launch a campaign encouraging donation.

“Donating sperm is an intimate action of solidarity,” said spokesperson Helene Duguet.

“The first step is to inform people that these donations are possible and can help people to form families. 

“The idea is to encourage donors for years to come.”

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