Controversial bioethics law passed

Controversial bioethics law passed

France's parliament allows artificial insemination for all women © Alex Traxel (shutterstock)

French parliament opens artificial insemination to all women by law. The National Assembly passed the controversial bioethics bill on Saturday night. The Catholic Church had vehemently opposed the law.

New law extends artificial insemination to lesbian couples and single women in France. President Emmanuel Macron praised via Twitter "the commitment of parliamentarians, government officials and the national ethics commission". Opening artificial insemination to all women was among his campaign promises. The text now goes back to the Senate for final approval. The law is expected to take effect later this year.

Days of acrimonious debate

The adoption in second reading was preceded by days of sometimes acrimonious debates in the National Assembly. 60 deputies voted in favor of the bill, 37 against; 4 abstained. The conservative Republicans (LR), successor party to the UMP, balked at creating "children without fathers" in the debate; they saw the law as "another step toward surrogacy".

The president of the LGBT association GayLib, Catherine Michaud, spoke of a "historic step for women's rights and freedom". However, she says it is regrettable that trans people are excluded from the new law. GayLib advocates for the rights of gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people.

The Catholic Church's opposition to the law

The Catholic Church had vehemently opposed the bill. The French Bishops' Conference's bioethics commissioner, Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas, said in a first reaction over the weekend that with the law the deputies wanted to "completely remove the father from the act of conception". Parliamentarians should not "interfere in the intimacy of the family and legislate on love". Its mission, it said, is to pass laws "based on respect for human dignity and the ethical values that flow from it, including the protection of the most vulnerable".

The archbishop elaborated that the deputies were avowedly seeking a "balance". But can one speak of balance when the law "effectively prohibits children from having a father and in practice leads to unfair discrimination between them," he asked.

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