Everyone knows that this is not the end of the matter. However, it is to be hoped that the vote that took place last week in the French Senate may represent a brake and hopefully a change of course with regard to the law on bioethics in this transalpine country.
iFamNews has been tracking the progress of this bill since last summer. It is controversial and complex, deals with extremely sensitive issues, and it has turned both right-wing and left-wing parties against each other, as well as ordinary people, as seen by the protests that took place from October until 30 and 31 January in many French cities.
On August 1, the National Assembly approved the second reading the text of the bill, which was strongly desired and promised in the election campaign by President Emanuel Macron and his party companion Jean Louis Touraine (both of them members of La République en Marche, LREM).
Between February 2 and 4, the upper house of the French National Assembly rejected all of the most controversial amendments, saying, for instance, no to the following:
- heterologous medically assisted procreation (MAP), free and reimbursed by the national health service for all women, including singles and homosexual couples, which representatives of La Manif pour tous and senators who opposed the law have labelled “MAP without a father”,
- post mortem fertilization,
- the creation of chimeras and transgenic embryos,
- the possibility of abortion “[…] at any week of gestation” in situations of “[…] psycho-social distress”,
- the practice of gestational surrogacy (GPA), also known as “surrogacy” or “surrogate motherhood”.
At the time of the debate and the vote, the Senate was divided, and the right and the left were more at odds than ever, particularly with regard to the decision that was to be made about the free-for-all MAP, which, among other things, would have paved the way for “double maternity” or ROPA (Reception of Oocytes from the Partner).
Again on Friday night, during the television show Parlement Hebdo, broadcast by the official broadcaster LPC, Gilles Le Gendre, a Paris deputy and former president of the LREM group in the National Assembly, accused the right of purely electoral aims ahead of the presidential elections scheduled for 2022, and … said that, having lost the battle, the left still aims to win the war…: “the MAP for all women in a couple or singles will take place. It will be voted on and adopted definitively at the end of this five-year term. We would have liked things to go faster, but this promise will be kept! I say this definitively. The MAP will be adopted in our country”. The MAP for all, according to him, will be in force in France within the next five years.
However, the legislative process now involves a new institutional step, namely a debate in the Joint Committee (JPC), comprising seven National Assembly members and seven senators. In the event that an agreement cannot be reached there, the text of the bill on bioethics would be passed on again – and for the last time – to the National Assembly, which, however, as we have seen, has already voted in favor of the bill twice.
But the last word has not yet been said.