Today, French parliament is considering a law to lift discriminatory restrictions on lesbians and single women accessing assisted reproductive technology—and, turns out, sexist-ass bigots are a little bit pissed off about it. Conservative groups have organized a march next month arguing that the law would “deprive children of a father,” reports the Guardian. Opponents have even found marginal support from National Academy of Medicine’s ethics board, which released a report cautioning that “the deliberate conception of a child deprived of a father is not without risk for the child’s development.”
Never mind the risk of having a shitty dad, or barely-there dad, or a dad-who-is-only-a-dad-because-the-government-has-socially-engineered-his-necessity dad. People love to put the onus of nurturing and rearing children on women, until a woman wants to do it on her own, or with another woman. But I digress.
Under French law “only heterosexual couples who have been married or living together for more than two years have the right to access procedures such as in vitro fertilization, artificial insemination or sperm donation,” reports the Guardian. This new law would allow single and lesbian women to access these methods of assisted reproductive technology under France’s national health care system. It would also “allow women in their mid-30s to freeze their eggs–a procedure currently available only to women undergoing treatment that could affect their fertility, such as radiation therapy or chemotherapy for cancer.”
The current discriminatory restrictions have meant that, as the Guardian previously reported, “thousands of single French women and women in same-sex couples have had to travel abroad to access donor sperm or assisted procreation in countries such as Spain, Belgium or Denmark.” As the Guardian points out, “The new law would bring France into line with many of its neighbors [sic],” several of whom have opened up these procedures to all women.
When it’s happening elsewhere, it’s easy to gawk at the mere fact of so publicly debating whether lesbians and single women get to reproduce, let alone the horror show of “what about the dads” discourse. The reality is that the United States doesn’t have much moral superiority, though, given prohibitive and discriminatory insurance policies. As Mother Jones reported in 2016, “Only 14 states require that insurance companies have at least one plan that covers infertility treatments,” and “many of them use language [that defines] infertility as the inability to become pregnant after a certain period of unprotected sex.” In other words: lesbians and single women are often excluded.
In the U.S. the debate over IVF coverage is often excluded from the national stage, with a scatter-shot focus on state-by-state requirements and highly variable private insurance policies. Which is to say: These piecemeal inclusions might spare us some of the “what about the dads” pleas, but that doesn’t mean these attitudes aren’t equally at play.