During his press conference on June 7, 2017, Jean-François Delfraissy, as president of the French National Consultative Ethics Committee (“CCNE”) announced that the Committee will render its decision on the controversial subject of ART for single women and for lesbian partners by the end of the month.
The new French president approves of assisted reproductive technology (ART) for single women, and lesbian couples, but specifies that he prefers advocating a pedagogical process by awaiting the CCNE’s decision. Due to numerous oppositions, this decision has been on hold since 2013, particularly with repercussions from the same-sex marriage law. In January 2013, the CCNE held an overall review to reflect on societal developments for ART. Then in March 2013, CCNE’s previous president, Jean-Claude Ameisen, convoked a General Assembly, which never took place, to review all the issues associated with ART. Four years later, we are still waiting for this notorious decision from the CCNE.
In France, ART is currently only allowed for male-female couples who have been medically diagnosed with infertility. Assisted reproduction may serve as a comforting measure but it does not “heal” couples. Insemination and in vitro fertilization (IVF) with donor involve serious ethical issues such as excess embryo production and/or depriving individuals of part of their biological origins. The European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology recently published an article by European specialists who criticize the overuse in performing unwarranted IVF procedures, and the profits from its commercialization and reimbursement.
In February 2016, the Senate’s information report on the consequences of ART and surrogacy abroad, concluded that ART should not be offered to same-sex couples because if implemented, it would eliminate the clause for the requirement of medical infertility, and sexual complementarity (alterity) would turn the French concept of ART upside-down, and pave the way for the “right to have a child” and “artificial reproduction of convenience”. In 2009 when the bioethical laws were undergoing review, the Council of State, had also rejected the act of deliberately depriving a child from his father.
In March 2017, the French newspaper, “Le Monde” published an editorial column signed by doctors who admitted to having broken the law, particularly by performing ART with anonymous donors for single women, thus simultaneously playing the part of judge and jury.
This lobbying is detrimental to having unbiased and meaningful debates on such a sensitive topic, which should primarily be focused on children’s rights.
Professor Jean-François Mattei, author of the first bioethics law, strongly criticized this act, and emphasized its effect on the doctor’s role. « Is their role to care for patients; or to respond to every extraneous medical request?” These doctors’ actions convey the idea that one has a « right to a child », « thus categorizing children as objects. » This same viewpoint was voiced by Jacques Toubon, the Equal Rights Defender, when auditioned by the Senate in 2015: he recommended eliminating the requirement for infertility, and only keeping the clause for the “desire to become parents”, thus paving the way for surrogacy, while totally ignoring children’s rights.
Besides the serious injustice of intentionally depriving a child from his biological parents and his genealogy, important issues need to be addressed such as: donor anonymity, reimbursing unnecessary medical procedures, and increasing business prospects for the ART market. French children born from anonymous gamete donors founded the Anonymous Medical Procreation Association, to reveal the system’s wrongdoings. In 2008 “Fathered by an unknown sperm donor” by Arthur Kermevelsen was published and shed light on the difficulties and feelings of injustice that certain children experience.
Alliance VITA’s opinion:
This constitutes a serious attack on the protection of children’s rights: substituting the idea of « medical » infertility to that of “societal” infertility, and eliminating the requirement for couples to be formed between a man and a woman. Caroline Roux, as coordinator for the association’s hotline listening center emphasizes that “this is double punishment for children: starting from the original mistreatment of purposefully depriving them of their biological origins, plus cutting them off from any paternal relationship. Furthermore, with the tactic of non-discrimination, this will inevitably lead to men demanding surrogacy.”
Alliance VITA implores public authorities to have a stronger commitment to infertility research and to implement genuine prevention policies in this area.