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27.09.2019 Europe

French MPs approve IVF for lesbians, single women

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LISTEN SEP 27, 2019
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The French parliament has moved towards allowing lesbians and single women to conceive children with medical help, setting the stage for a clash with conservatives who say proposed changes to bioethics legislation will create generations of "fatherless" youngsters.

To loud applause, France's lower house of parliament on Friday approved a controversial draft bioethics law in a move that has already sparked outrage from defenders of the traditional family unit, and even opponents in President Emmanuel Macron's own centrist party.

For now, only heterosexual couples have the right to use medically-assisted reproduction methods such as in vitro fertilisation, commonly known as IVF.

Given the green light by the National Assembly, the bill must also get the go-ahead from the upper house, or Senate, before it can become law.

The National Assembly passed the draft law by 55 votes to 17.

The legislation represents Macron's biggest social reform since coming to power in 2017.

Huge political risk to keep a presidential promise

But the president has acknowledged the political risk he is taking, and is mindful of the backlash six years ago against gay marriage, legalised under his Socialist predecessor François Hollande.

A coalition of grassroots religious groups, Catholic figures and right-wing political opponents organised mass demonstrations against Hollande.

About 20 conservative groups have called for a rally in Paris on 6 October against the proposed legal changes they say will "deprive children of their fathers".

Under the bill -- for which lawmakers have proposed a total of 2,500 amendments -- the child of a lesbian couple would have the names of the "mother and mother" on its birth certificate instead of the "mother and father".

The conservative Le Figaro newspaper said in an editorial on Monday that the reform "threatens the foundation of our humanity", while the prestigious French Academy of Medicine has raised worries about the potential psychological impact on children.

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