The French Catholic Church has urged President Emmanuel Macron to proceed with caution after the country's ethics board approved medically assisted procreation for all women and a top appellate court allowed children born of surrogate mothers abroad to be adopted by their French "intended father".
The aim of medically assisted procreation is to enable couples considered as infertile and untreatable by other methods to have a child they can call their own.
Archbishop Pierre d'Ornellas of Rennes, ethics spokesman for the bishops’ conference, said the Government should not “take quick decisions that sow division and arouse passions” about assisted procreation, which until now has been reserved for infertile heterosexual married couples.
He noted that 11 of the 40 members of the National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) argued against any change in the current law.
“Let us take time for reflection and debate,” he wrote in an op-ed article for the daily Le Monde, adding the rights of the child involved should be given priority.
The bishops’ conference said the planned revision of France’s bioethics law next year should be the occasion for a broad social debate. It welcomed that the CCNE spoke out against surrogacy but expressed concern that broadening access to assisted procreation would lead one day to the legalisation of surrogate motherhood. One consequence of this would be that gay male couples would be able to have children through an agreement with a surrogate mother.
Mgr Olivier Ribadeau Dumas, spokesman for the bishops’ conference, said: “Even though there is a difference between assisted procreation and surrogacy, I don’t see how one will be able to justify in future the fact that two women can have a child but that cannot be the case for men.” French lesbians and single heterosexual women who opt for artificial insemination now have to travel to a neighbouring European country such as Belgium or Spain for the procedure.
During his election campaign, Mr Macron argued for assisted procreation to be extended to all women in the name of equality. His opponents used that to urge voters not to support him because they said that would lead to surrogacy.