French MPs have voted against the government and in favour of an amendment which would recognise the filiation of children born through surrogacy abroad. The government has called for a second consultation.
Surrogacy (GPA in French) is illegal in France and the government has insisted it will remain so. “It would have raised the issue of the commercialisation of women's bodies,” Health Minister Agnes Buzyn said earlier this year.
But on Thursday evening, as MPs continued to examine the bioethics bill in parliament, some with the ruling Republic on the Move (LaREM) voted in favour of an amendment recognising children born through surrogacy abroad in countries where it is authorised.
“Even if GPA is not legal in France, it is in other countries – and it is not illegal for French couples to seek it abroad,” said LaREM MP Jean-Louis Touraine, author of the amendment, who pleaded for the rights of the child to take precedence.
“Children are not responsible for the way they were conceived and must not be penalised,” he said. “They should be recognised like the others. The time when children born out of wedlock did not have the same rights as others is over.”
But justice minister Nicole Belloubet insisted that GPA would remain outlawed in France. The government favours giving such children a civil status with a certificate recognising the biological father and allowing for adoption by the other parent.
The vote comes as an embarrassment for the government, ahead of a demonstration against extending IVF to lesbians and single women on Sunday.
Organised by the "Manif pour tous" movement, which previously opposed gay marriage, one of the main arguments against the bill is that it would open the door to GPA further down the line.
“We warned you that GPA would come into the debate, and this evening it has partially won,” said Annie Genevard from the conservative Republicains party. “It's a nightmare.”
Belloubet has promised a second vote. “Our group is opposed to GPA and will vote against this amendment during the second consultation,” said Aurore Berger from the LaREM party.