Lesbian couples and single women in France will be in rejoice, as the parliament unanimously approved a bill granting them access to fertility treatments for the first time. Only heterosexual couples have the right to access medically assisted fertility treatments known as In-vitro fertilization (IVF) under current French law. 

In the previous case, single women and lesbian couples have to reach abroad fertility care in order to have children of their own. But now it is about to change, thanks to new legislation proposed by President Emmanuel Macron’s administration. It was approved by the National Assembly on Tuesday after two years of often contentious debate. 

The new law will align France with ten other European member countries and the United Kingdom. Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Sweden round out the top ten. Outside the European countries, Iceland and Norway also have laws that are similar to France.

Belgium and Spain, which are currently two of the top destinations for fertility care, and many French lesbian couples and single women have traveled to Belgium and Spain for fertility treatment, which can be prohibitively expensive.

The Inter-LGBT association applauded the decision, which came after years of dithering by successive governments and further delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The legislation addresses a number of issues that have arisen as a result of the dramatic increase in the use of fertility treatment in recent years. Controversially, it allows children to conceive with donor sperm to learn the donor’s identity when they reach adulthood, effectively ending the anonymity that donors in France had previously enjoyed.

It also allows women in their 30s to freeze their eggs, a procedure that was previously only available to women undergoing treatment for conditions that could affect their fertility, such as cancer radiation therapy or chemotherapy. However, it does not legalize surrogacy, a practice used by some couples to have children that are still widely condemned in France.

After 500 hours of debate and over 12,000 amendments, the law was finally approved. And according to the proposed law, only infertile heterosexual couples in France had access to medically assisted reproduction methods and France’s healthcare system will cover the cost of fertility procedures for all women under the age of 43.