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Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

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France drafts law to allow lesbians, single women universal access to artificial procreation

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

June 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – France’s draft law on medically assisted procreation (“PMA” as it is called for short) is almost ready for discussion in Parliament. Hours after having been transmitted by the government to the Council of State, several major news outlets, including the semi-official Catholic daily “La Croix,” were able to obtain the full text whose 32 articles – and major innovations – have been widely commented on during the weekend.

For President Emmanuel Macron, access to in vitro fertilization and artificial insemination for all, including single women and lesbian couples, was one of his more spectacular campaign commitments. His government’s draft law is certainly intent on delivering, all the most transgressive options having been chosen.

The text expected to be presented to the National Assembly by July 26, in fact, offers access to medically assisted procreation to all adult women, whether in a heterosexual or same-sex relationship or “celibate.” It has been published in full by the conservative Catholic news blog, Le Salon Beige.

To date, “PMA” is only available in France for man-woman couples who are married, in a civil union or in a stable relationship and have been for the last two years, on the condition that at least one of the two has been medically verified to be sterile or risks transmitting a grave illness to his or her child. Both should be of fertile age.

With the new law, the government wants to scrap the conditions regarding fertility issues and potential transmission of a grave illness, thereby making artificial procreation available to all on demand, albeit with a psychological assessment on the part of the health authorities. The text explicitly offers access to the technique to “any couple consisting of a man and a woman or two women or any unmarried woman.” 

Besides, the procedure would be 100 percent covered by social security, in the same way as elective abortion, which is already more fully reimbursed than costs related to pregnancy. At present, a maximum of four in vitro fertilizations and six direct inseminations are 100 percent funded for couples eligible for legal “PMA.”

The new law is, in fact, aiming to mainstream artificial procreation, turning it into an option for all women at any point during their fertile lives, whether they are living alone or in any type of relationship. If this passes the National Assembly and the Senate, traditional procreation will no longer be the “normal” way to have a baby, since any woman or couple will be in position to use a medical technique eliminating the necessity of sexual intercourse -- and at the expense of the taxpayer, for good measure.

In practice, “PMA for all limits the coming of a new child to the fertilization of the egg,” commented genethique.org, the news service of the pro-life Fondation Jérôme-Lejeune.

It went on to quote Michèle Fontanon-Missenard and Christian Flavigny, two psychoanalysts and child psychiatrists who are opposed to systematic access to medically assisted procreation:

“Limiting its coming to a mere organic point of view amounts to ‘forsaking the symbolic constitution of the primary link between parents and children that transmits the human being.’ PMA for all would lead to disqualifying the foundation of all family life and thus would destroy it. It is a society that transforms procreation into child production and establishes no less than a right to having a child,” said the Foundation.

The same logic is at work when the draft law proposes to allow all women to deep-freeze their oocytes in view of subsequent artificial procreation, probably between ages 32 and 43, for those who have put off having a child.

The only “PMA” will not be available, as the draft law stands, is so-called “post-mortem assisted procreation,” which some politicians wanted to legalize for women after their husband’s or (male) companions death, using his sperm or eggs fertilized with his sperm.

The draft law does not give a definitive answer to legal questions regarding the filiation of children who will be born to female couples under its reign.

The first option is totally based on the adults’ volition. It would create filiation by means of an “anticipated declaration of will” drawn up before a notary by the couple, be it heterosexual or lesbian, or the single woman before the birth. That declaration would be presented to the civil registrar after birth. Such a procedure would completely disassociate civil identity from biology, making it the result of a mere declaration of intent.

At present under French civil law, a woman’s legal male partner is presumed to be the biological father of the child born to her. This presumption would be weakened by a systematic declaration of intent.

The second option would consist of reserving this declaration of intent to same-sex women couples only, but accusations of “discrimination” have already been leveled at the government over this option.

“La Croix” recalls, however, that “in a report published in July 2018, the Council of State clearly preferred this scenario because it maintains two distinct regimes based on ‘two different philosophies:’ the current regime for heterosexual couples, based on biological mimicry, and the regime reserved for female couples, ‘based on the increased role of will.’”

Whatever the solution, it will clearly be based on legal fiction.

Last but not least, as the result of a decades-long process, the draft law wants to lift complete donor anonymity, which is the rule at present in order to allow “artificially procreated” children to have access to their origins, either at birth or on demand when having reached their majority. Donors will be allowed to choose whether their names are revealed or only their “non-identifying data” (age, state of health at the time of donation, physical characteristics, country of birth, motivation for donation). The donation would entail the compulsory transmission and conservation of these non-identifying data.

The complete anonymity of donors has been identified as problematic for the children born through artificial procreation and has been increasingly criticized, even though a risk exists that donors would be more reluctant to give sperm or ova.

The law would expressly prohibit any type of filiation to derive from gamete donation.

Sperm and egg donations are already insufficient in France to meet the demands for “PMA,” which can only grow when it becomes available to all women.

At present, some 3.000 babies are born each year in France after having been conceived thanks to a donor outside the couple.

The draft law is one of a line of bioethics legislation that is revised in principle every five years and in practice every seven years or so in order to keep up with scientific “progress.”

The government’s text proposes to ease conditions on research on embryonic stem cell lines that are at present subject to requests for authorization. The bill also proposes to allow the destruction of frozen embryos that are no longer subject to a “parental project” and have been conserved for five years or more. At the end of December 2016, recalls “La Croix,” nearly 225,000 embryos were being kept in storage.

The text contains no provision to extend pre-conceptional genetic testing for couples who want to learn about possible genetic defects before procreating. On the other hand, the bill wants to allow genetic testing on deceased persons in order to allow geneticists to have better knowledge of family medical history.

The “Manif pour Tous” and other associations are preparing for the battle against the new bioethics law, mainly on the grounds that it is deliberately promoting the “creation” of children without a father.

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