Until January 2020, the only people who could access IVF and other assisted reproduction technologies in France under the country’s health care plan were married, heterosexual couples. Even for those who qualified, access was limited.
We previously reported on a slight easing of that restriction, as the French government authorized single women and lesbian couples to access IVF beginning in January 2020. However, even under that change, the procedure was not free for single women or lesbian couples, even though it was covered as a health care expense for heterosexual couples. In other words, while technically available to a broader group of people, in reality, the expensive procedure was only available to those with the financial means of paying for it themselves.
At long last, after a two-year debate in parliament, France has finally legalized fertility treatments including IVF for lesbians and single women – making the procedures free for them, just as they are for qualified heterosexual couples. The June 2020 law change is welcome news to LGBT rights groups who have been pushing for this step since 2013, when same-sex marriage was legalized in France.
French women who didn’t qualify for access to IVF or other procedures under the previous law often would end up going to other countries where such access was legal, although such travel and procedures often came with hefty price tags. The French government has indicated that it intends to implement the new law quickly, with the possibility that the first child could be conceived under the new rules by the end of 2021.
It is important to note that France’s ban on surrogacy arrangements remains unchanged at this time; the law change was limited to access to medically-assisted reproduction procedures.
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