The President of the French Republic announced this past June 30th, his desire to repeal a circular reminding gynecologists not to encourage Medically assisted procreation (MAP) abroad since it is forbidden in France.
The French Minister for Families, Laurence Rossignol, who is strongly opposed to this circular, was nonetheless published by her colleague, Marisol Touraine, Minister of Health, who gave large media coverage to this announcement, explaining in the Public Senate “there is no reason to complicate the lives [of lesbian couples] ». Several other public figures have since expressed their opinion, notably on July 6th, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet.
In fact, the circular in question is a letter from the Health Minister addressed to the National Order of Doctors on December 12, 2012, and forwarded to the Order’s Departmental Council on January, 13, 2013. This letter is intended to fight against the commodification of procreation and against foreign companies soliciting surrogate business. It underlines that it is illegal to encourage such practices abroad and recalls that the criminal code punishes “mediation for fostering the procurement of gametes” (article 511-9 of the criminal code). But if the text was repealed tomorrow, it would not signify that the sanctions set out would be abolished: only a new law would be able to do that. Repealing the circular is first and foremost a political and ideological message.
Recall that a recent informational report from two members of the Senate’s Legal Committee, Yves Détraigne (UDI party ) et Catherine Tasca (Socialist), dated February 17, 2016 and dealing with the consequences of having recourse to medically assisted procreation (MAP) and surrogacy abroad, concluding that MAP should not be allowed for same-sex couples. The rapporteurs underline that by eliminating the prerequisites of medical infertility and sexual alterity, the French conception of MAP is turned upside down, paving the way for “the right to a child” and “procreation of convenience”. In reality this practice is a serious infringement on filiation rules and children’s rights.
Alliance VITA’s opinion :
Tugdual Derville, Alliance VITA’s General Delegate notes: « This maneuver by the government is simultaneously cacophonic, deceptive and unfair. Cacophonic: because Laurence Rossignol is pleased to take the opposite stance of Marisol Touraine. Deceptive: because she would have us believe that the executive power is capable of suppressing the impact of criminal law. Abolishing a circular letter that only emphasizes the seriousness of commodification practices for procreation abroad, has no affect whatsoever on the law banning this practice. The government cannot place itself above the legislative provisions, which continue to be in force. What is preoccupying is the particularly confusing signal addressed to the public: practices which are illegal in France are being encouraged abroad, since it is announced that promoting these practices should go unpunished. It must be reaffirmed that it is of no interest to any child, to be deliberately deprived of his paternal filiation. Turning a blind eye to fraud of French law by “procreative tourism” is to encourage the de facto decriminalization of these practices contrary to children’s rights. This is as appalling as it is unfair. This is why today we encourage all legal and political initiatives capable of protecting children from this libertarian shifting, especially as it is accelerating one year before the national elections.”
Caroline Roux, who coordinates the SOS Baby Listening Services for Alliance VITA on maternity issues, reminds that MAP by donors poses ethical and human considerations. “Pretending that women alone or in couples can have recourse to in vitro insemination or fertilization with a donor to give birth to children “without a father” is the same as misappropriating the practices reserved for cases of medical infertility to make it a way of trivializing procreation. It constitutes a double penalty for the children: in addition to the original abuse of seeing children deliberately deprived of their biological origins, is added that of being cut off from all paternal relationships”.