Thousands march in France against IVF

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in Paris on Sunday.

They were opposing a bill allowing single women and lesbian couples under the age of 43 access to in vitro fertilisation (IVF) treatment.

In France, IVF is currently restricted to heterosexual couples who are married or have cohabited at least two years.

Besides broadening the rights of single and lesbian women, the bill also addresses the rights of children conceived by IVF.

If passed into law, children conceived with donated sperm will have the right to find out their donor father’s identity when they reach the age of 18. This is not currently allowed.

Although the church hierarchy did not officially call on Catholics to march, it posted comments from 56 bishops on the bishops conference website.

All the bishops criticised the bill and urged opposition to it, often including public protests such as the march.

One prelate, Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris, said the bill “touches on the most essential foundations on which our human societies are built”.

He described these as “filiation, the non-commercialisation of the human body, respect of all life from its conception until its natural death, the best interest of the child, a philanthropic and non-commercial medicine, a human ecology where the body is not an instrument but the place of the edification of the personality.”

A speaker at the protest, former legislator Marion Maréchal, said the French government is seeking “to voluntarily deprive a child of a father or to transform him and the mother who carries him into a consumer product.”

Others said the law would lead to a further reform legalising surrogate motherhood.

Organisers said the proposed law would weaken the family and therefore, thus society.

It is unjust “to authorise the manufacture of children voluntarily deprived of a father,” they said.

Many participants fear assisted procreation will inevitably lead to allowing surrogate motherhood, a reform opposed by an even larger percentage of French.

The government has denied it would do this.

Several of France’s neighbours, including Britain, Spain and the Netherlands, already allow IVF for single women and lesbian couples.

Polls suggest about two-thirds of the public support the bill, which has been passed by the lower house of parliament.

It will go before the Senate later this month.


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