France is considering a reform to its bioethics laws that some clinicians warn will result in long wait times for sperm.
Currently, only opposite-sex couples can use In vitro vertilization in France. The treatment is also restricted to couples who are infertile or risk transmitting a disease or genetic condition.
The proposed reforms would allow same-sex couples to use IVF, but according to Channel News Asia, Health Minister Agnes Buzyn says demand will skyrocket if the measures pass, predicting that 2,000 additional women will seek artificial insemination.
Waiting times for sperm are already quite long in france. It can take a year on average from registration to treatment. The French network of sperm banks say that they’re only just barely able to meet demand as is.
There were fewer than 363 sperm donations conducted in France through official channels last year. Sperm banks are not allowed to financially compensate donors.
Nathalie Rives, who represents the French sperm bank industry, told Reuters, “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.”
Polling indicates that most French citizens support the proposal, which was a key element of President Emmanuel Macron’s 2017 campaign. About two thirds of respondents endorsed the plan, but it remains opposed by conservative forces, including Manif Pour Tous, the anti-LGBTQ+ group that tried to block marriage equality from becoming law in 2013.
Other reforms under consideration include a lifting of mandatory secrecy laws that prevent offspring from obtaining information about their biological parents.
But clinicians warn that donations will drop if donors think that their children might be able to track them down, further exacerbating shortages. What’s more, they say, samples that were previously collected from anonymous donors might have to be destroyed because they don’t comply with new reporting regulations.
France currently experiences a large black market for sperm due to the lack of availability and legal restrictions.
Debate on the bill begins today. There’s no estimate for when it might pass.