June 27, 2017 / 2:05 PM / 2 years ago

French ethics panel backs lesbian procreation help

PARIS (Reuters) - Campaigners for lesbian motherhood got a significant boost in France on Tuesday when a panel of ethics specialists said that female couples and single women should be granted access to sperm-donor techniques of medically assisted reproduction.

The recommendation from the National Consultative Committee on Ethics (CCNE) comes two months after President Emmanuel Macron promised to legislate on access to medically assisted procreation for lesbians if elected.

The all-clear from CCNE, a panel which deliberates on sweeping societal changes made possible by the progress of science, brings France a step closer to the biggest gay rights reform since same-sex marriage was legalized in 2013.

A group that spearheaded months of protests before the legalization of gay marriage denounced the view of the ethics committee. It urged Macron in a statement not to launch what it said would be a “futile” debate on the issue.

It cited a poll by Opinionay survey which found earlier this month that 77 percent of respondents answered “yes” when asked if they felt the state should guarantee the right of children born through medically assisted techniques to a mother and a father.

Medically assisted procreation is widely available in places such as Britain, Belgium and Spain but it is reserved in France to heterosexual couples, with most or all of the bill paid for by public healthcare funds.

France was the 14th country in the world to legalize gay marriage.

The CCNE, which is made up of a rotating membership of 39 people representing the main religions as well as ethics experts and scientific researchers, was created by late President Francois Mitterrand in 1983.

Gay rights group SOS Homophibie welcomed its recommendation and called on Macron to legislate rapidly.

The CCNE said it opposed recourse to surrogate mothers, one of the only ways gay male couples could aspire to parenting, though they can adopt.

Reporting by Sophie Louet, Brian Love and Cyril Camu, editing by Pritha Sarkar

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