France may not have enough sperm to allow lesbian and bisexual couples access to IVF

French lawmakers have begun debating a bioethics bill which would allow single women and women in same-sex couples to access IVF treatment, but clinicians have said that it could lead to a sperm shortage.

Current French law allows state-funded Medically Assisted Procreation (PMA) only to heterosexual couples who are married or have been living together for at least two years.

According to Reuters, clinicians at France’s network of sperm banks (CECOS) have said that supply only just meets the current demand, and allowing lesbian and bisexual women access to PMA could cause a shortage of sperm in the country.

Nathalie Rives, president of CECOS, told Reuters: “To say ‘everything is going to be OK’ would be burying your head in the sand.

“There will be a period of instability, with increased demand and the need to recruit new donors. We don’t know how long this instability will last and whether there will be a shortage.”

Sticker referring to Medically Assisted Procreation (PMA) during the LGBT+ Pride March 2019 in Paris. (Estelle Ruiz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The reform of laws around reproductive technology was one of president Emmanuel Macron’s campaign pledges.

Another proposed change in legislation is abolishing the right of sperm and egg donors to permanently remain anonymous.

Currently, children conceived via egg or sperm donors do not have the right to identifying information about their biological parent at the age of 18, which is the case in countries like the UK.

CECOS clinicians have predicted, according to Reuters, that if this legislation passes it will lead to fewer donors, and to past donors denying sperm banks the right use their sperm.

Gynecologist and obstetrician Professor René Frydman, nicknamed “Monsieur PMA”, created France’s first “test-tube baby” and said that he is frustrated with the lack of progress in allowing all women to access treatments like IVF.

He told France 24: “Every woman who wants to have a baby should have the right to medical assistance in the best possible conditions.”