On March 5th, the Versailles Administrative Court of Appeal ruled on the age limit for men to have assisted reproductive technology (ART) at “approximately age 59”.

The Administrative Court was solicited to rule on the appeal filed by the French Biomedicine Agency. The Administrative Court had refuted Biomedicine Agency’s decision which previously denied a male couple authorization to export gametes and germ cells on the basis that the 2 men were aged 68 and 69 respectively. The agency based their decision on Article L. 2141-2 of the French Public Health Code which reserves access to ART for couples “of childbearing age”.

In June 2017, a 69-year-old French man requested to have his frozen gametes returned to have ART performed in Belgium. The Biomedicine Agency was then forced to accept transferring his gametes. The following month, in July 2017, the Advisory Council of the Biomedicine Agency recommended establishing an age limit for ART at age 60 for men and age 43 for women.

The issue being debated is the age for childbearing. Most professionals already practice an age limit, especially since 2005 when the National Health Insurance stopped reimbursing ART for women over 42, since thereafter successful results becomes diminished.

The Administrative Appeals Court in Versailles, in referring to the legislators’ intention, considered that “the unborn child must be shielded from being exposed to certain inherent risks with ART” and equally that of “women due to the harrowing experience of ovarian stimulation techniques which are not without risk”. The “childbearing age” should be defined as “the time whereby the procreative capacities of men and women have not been altered by natural effects of aging”. The Court relied on “the most recent available scientific data, noting that after age 59, the male reproductive capacities are generally modified due to the statistical increase risk of malformations and other medical complications “.

The age limit for becoming parents via ART should be included in the current revision of French bioethical laws.