France urged to allow lesbian couples access to fertility treatment

French President Emmanuel Macron's proposal to let single women and lesbian couples receive fertility treatment received a boost Tuesday with an ethics body recommending they be given the same access as heterosexual couples.

France urged to allow lesbian couples access to fertility treatment
Photo: Pixabay/Wikicommons
During campaigning for president this year Macron had said he was favourable to giving single women and lesbian couples access to assisted reproductive technology (ART), currently only available to heterosexual couples.
Anticipating resistance from conservatives, Macron said he would wait for the National Consultative Ethics Committee — which has been weighing up the issue for three-and-a-half years — to issue a recommendation, “in order to build the largest possible consensus”.
In its highly anticipated announcement Tuesday the committee said it “recommends that ART be opened up to female couples and single women”, one of the report's authors, Frederic Worms, told reporters.
Photo: Baby photo  
Such a move would help “alleviate the suffering caused by infertility resulting from individual orientations,” he added.
France is one of several European countries with strict rules on who can access fertility treatment.
Any move to expand access is likely to encounter fierce resistance from the Catholic hardliners who brought hundreds of thousands of people onto the
street in 2013 against the legalisation of gay marriage and adoption.
Reacting to the committee's finding the conservative Manif Pour Tous (Demonstrations for All) group behind the 2013 protests warned any further
change in the law would be a “major error”.
The LGBT and feminist group Effrontees (Unashamed) however welcomed the recommendation and said it hoped it would lead to a change in France's “discriminatory” legislation.
The committee also considered whether France should lift a ban on surrogacy, whereby a woman carries a child for another couple, often a gay couple — a practice also banned in Germany, Italy, Spain and several other European countries.
Here, the committee argued in favour of the status quo. 
“Believing that there is no such thing as ethical surrogacy the committee is favourable to maintaining and strengthening the ban,” another of the report's authors, Frederique Kuttenn, said.
An Ifop poll published Saturday to coincide with Pride celebrations around Europe showed 60 percent of the French in favour of giving lesbian couples access to fertility treatment.
By contrast, only 44 percent were in favour of allowing gay men to use surrogate mothers to have a child.


Strike calls in France on International Women’s Day

Men and women are being called on to finish work at 3.40pm on Monday to highlight the gender pay gap, one of many actions and demonstrations taking place around France to mark International Women's Day.

Strike calls in France on International Women's Day
Photo: Thomas Samson/AFP

Several organisations and unions are calling for a strike to denounce pay inequality.

“On March the 8th, we will be on strike along with women all over the world to refuse to pay the price of the crisis with our jobs, our salaries, our bodies,” several unions including the CGT, FSU and Solidaires said in a press conference.

The objective is to denounce the gender pay gap that continues to impair women’s rights, but also to denounce the unfair burden that the past year’s health crisis has put on women.

“The lockdowns have been very heavy burdens on women for the past year, whether it’s in the health, work or home environments, increase in domestic violence. Not to mention the large amount of predominantly female jobs that have continued to maintained a level of normality during the lockdown,” the co-secretary general of FSU, Murielle Guilbert, told Les Echos.

The below map shows the actions planned around the country on Monday.

In Paris, a demonstration will start in Port-Royal at 1pm and move towards the Place de la République.

Organisations including Osez le féminisme, Les Effrontées and Unef have called women as well as men to go on strike on Monday from 3:40pm, in order to denounce the gender pay gap.

For a full list of actions around the country, click here.

French President Emmanuel Macron has been criticised by a junior minister for having only one woman among his closest advisers.

“I told him ‘Mr President, you are not giving a good example,” Elisabeth Moreno, a junior minister in charge of gender equality, told French media on Sunday.

She declined to say how the 43-year-old reacted, but she praised him for making gender equality a public priority and for ensuring balanced governments throughout his time in office.

Every cabinet since Macron came to power in 2017 has featured equal numbers of men and women, although both prime ministers have been male and the majority of the top cabinet jobs are currently held by men.

Macron has also been criticised for appointing Gérald Darmanin as his interior minister – the man nominally in charge of the country’s police force – while he is under investigation for rape.