French docs admit to illegally helping gay couples have kids

Some 130 doctors in France owned up on Friday to having helped gay couples to have children, in the hope of denouncing the "incoherence" of French law, which does not allow it.

French docs admit to illegally helping gay couples have kids
Photo: AFP

In an open letter in Friday's edition of French daily Le Monde, the doctors wrote: “We doctors, biologists, own up to having helped, accompanied gay couples or single women in their efforts to have children, which is not possible for them in France.”

They went on to demand a change in the law, allowing these groups to have IVF treatment.

Under France's current law, “medically assisted procreation” (known as PMA in France) is reserved for heterosexual couples only, while surrogacy is illegal under any circumstances. The doctors did not raise objections about the ban on surrogacy, saying that they wanted to avoid “commodification” of the body.

The group was headed by gynaecologist René Frydman, an expert in assisted reproduction who produced France's first 'test-tube baby'.

The extension of PMA to gay couples was originally included in France's 2013 marriage equality bill, but was later dropped due to the weight of the opposition against the bill.

That climb-down angered gay rights groups, who called President François Hollande a traitor.

The doctors argue that this is an inconsistency, since gay couples and single women are able to adopt children.

They are also asking that women be able to freeze their eggs for later pregnancy and donate eggs, a possibility already exists in several European countries including Spain, the UK and Belgium.

In France, this is only allowed if the women's fertility is at risk due to medical reasons, such as having to undergo chemotherapy, and not if the woman simply wishes to have children later in life.

The doctors' manifesto has drawn comparisons in French media to the Manifesto of the 343, a declaration written by Simone de Beauvoir and signed by 343 women who admitted to having had an abortion, which contributed to the decriminalization of abortion.

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Spain restores free IVF to singles, lesbians and now trans people

The Spanish government on Wednesday confirmed it will restore state-funded fertility treatment to singles, bisexual women and lesbians, also extending it to transgender persons capable of conceiving who can access IVF on the national health system.

Fertility treatment is now free for the majority of people in Spain. Photo: GENYA SAVILOV / AFP
Fertility treatment is now free for the majority of people in Spain. Photo: GENYA SAVILOV / AFP

The measure had long been demanded by LGBT rights groups and is part of the Socialist-led government’s drive for equality.

Fertility treatment is free in Spain, but in 2014, the conservative Popular Party government that was in power at the time, limited it to heterosexual women who have a partner, forcing others to pay for private treatment.

Since then, in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment has only been free for those with fertility problems resulting from a medical condition, or to prevent the transmission of a serious disease or disorder.

It was not available to those who were unable to conceive without having fertility problems, such as single women or lesbians.

“The government has restored the right of single women, lesbians and bisexuals to access assisted reproduction techniques within the national health system and has extended it to transgender people with gestational capacity,” a ministry statement said.

Under the new ministerial order, which came into effect on Wednesday, the service will affect some 8,500 women, according to the health ministry.

“This is a milestone,” said Health Minister Carolina Darias on signing the order, indicating it would have “an important impact on these groups, guaranteeing access to assisted reproduction techniques under equal conditions”.

“Spain is a world leader in public health and in rights for women and the LGBTI community,” she added.

Despite the conservative government’s move to limit the service seven years ago, many of Spain’s 17 regions, which are responsible for their own healthcare policy, refused to enforce it.

Spain’s current government, which describes itself as feminist, has a record number of women serving in the cabinet.